From the March 2015 Issue

Multi-Engine Trainers: A Strong Field

Acquiring a multi-engine rating is a rite of passage for any pilot who dreams of flying for a living. There’s no denying the feeling of power you get on first grabbing a fistful of throttles and shoving them up to the stop. There’s also no denying that, unless you pay for a type rating yourself, it’s the most costly rating you’ll get on a per-hour basis. With the market offering three production twins being regularly used as trainers, we were curious as to how they stacked up. We flew each one, spoke to several instructors at flight schools that did a significant amount of multi-engine instruction and used an out-of-production twin that’s still used for training for comparison. After all the Vmc demos and engine-out simulations, we came away of the opinion that all of the airplanes have some weaknesses, but none that are crippling—although someone who learns in a Twin Star will need significant additional training to fly anything other than a jet—and that the Tecnam P2006T has the potential to take over the multi-engine training market.

Current Issue

First Word: March 2015

Affordable aircraft is the name of a developing niche market that made its debut at this year’s U.S. Sport Aviation Expo in Sebring, Florida. The annual LSA show was even rebranded the Affordable Aircraft Expo, and includes older Part 23 certified airplanes fully or partially rebuilt to like-new standards. If it sounds like competition for the LSA market, it is. Sacrificing high-end avionics in favor of basic steam-gauge instruments and minimal radio stacks can drop the price of a basic refurbed model below the critical $100,000 price point—a target that many advanced LSA models miss.

Letters: March 2015

I always enjoy reading Aviation Consumer, and it was nice to see the article on survival kits in your February 2015 issue. I won’t pick the article apart and go into what should have been included, but it would be nice to see future articles on survival kits for different geographical regions, such as the tropics, the desert and so forth because each area has its own challenges.

Legacy Light Sport: Cub vs. Champ

While pilots grow old waiting for the FAA to reform the Third Class medical, light sport flying remains the last refuge to stay in the air. And vintage airplanes like Piper’s venerable J-3 Cub or the Aeronca Champion actually promise affordability, if not comfort and technological panache.

Starter Replacement: Consider Weight, Hot Starts

Master switch—on. Mixture—rich. Fuel pump—on until pressure registers, then off. Ignition key—start. Silence. Fortunately that result is rare. Almost invariably, when we turn the ignition key to start or hit a starter button on a piston-engine airplane, the starter engages and the prop swings with vigor. Over the past 20 years, new technology has made aircraft starters remarkably reliable—the newer ones should last beyond the engine’s TBO, if not abused. So, when there’s a big silence on hitting the start switch, the chances are that the problem is not with the starter itself. Nevertheless, the time does come when the starter slips its mortal coil and must either be replaced, rebuilt or overhauled. We’ll talk about how to make your starter last, a little about troubleshooting problems and what options are available when it gives up the ghost.

iFly GPS App: Multi-Device, Intuitive

The iFly GPS app from Adventure Pilot was born from the iFly 700-series GPS navigator, an intuitive tablet-based EFB that is being redesigned to include a better display and internal power supply. What got our attention is the iFly app’s flexibility to run on both the iPad and Android devices, a rare and welcomed option in the world of aviation apps. After flying with iFly GPS on both platforms, we like its simple flight planning and data entry process, shallow menu structure and useful graphics.

Beringer Brakes: Lightweight, Anti-Skid

Using its experience building patented motorcycle racing brakes, wheels and forks, French manufacturer Beringer Aero brings modern braking technology to small aircraft with a new line of bolt-on brake components and wheels. Said to be the lightest brakes and wheels available for small aircraft, Beringer’s components are now used by several OEMs, including Cirrus, Diamond and Pilatus, in addition to a long list of LSA and experimental kit manufacturers. The product line is unique because it includes an anti-skid feature, plus wheels that accommodate tubeless tire installations. We took a close look at Beringer’s line of brakes and wheels for LSA applications at this year’s U.S. Sport Aviation Expo, and also sampled its larger braking system in a new Cirrus. We think the technology represents the next generation of aircraft brakes.

Aircraft Weighing: Worth the Price and Effort

Unless your aircraft has never been modified, there is a good chance there are at least some discrepancies in its weight and balance data. I learned that firsthand when I worked as an avionics tech, discovering equipment that was installed and removed from some aircraft without being documented. Computing a new report for these aircraft was pointless. After all, you need to start a revision with accurate basic empty weight and reference datum figures. In many cases, the only way to do that is to have the aircraft weighed.

Cessna P210 Centurion

To gain sizable amounts of speed and efficiency, you’ll generally have to fly in the mid to upper teens and higher. And to do that, you’ll have to make a choice: stick an oxygen hose (or mask) in your nose or pay for the convenience of pressurization. Due to market demand and high production costs, the choices for single-engine models are limited to Cessna’s P210 and the Piper Malibu. Pressurizing anything, let alone a single, is fraught with difficulty. Part of it comes in the form of mechanical woes—the engines are short-lived, often don’t make it to TBO and they cost a lot to overhaul. Pressurization adds another complex system to maintain and operate. Part of it comes in mundane problems: separate, unpressurized baggage compartments and the need to fit everything that goes into the cabin through the pilot’s door. Then, of course, there’s the extra premium in first place: as of winter 2015, a 1981 P210 costs about $25,000 more than a 1981 T210.

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