From the July 2015 Issue

Mooney Reinvented: A New World Trainer

Frustrated buyers who complain about the stratospheric prices of new airplanes sometimes argue—rightly or wrongly—that manufacturers could offer cheaper products if they would just build simpler airplanes using more automation in construction. With its surprise announcement of two new aircraft at last fall’s Zhuhai Airshow in China, Mooney may be about to test the theory. At the least, Mooney is poised to muscle into a market it heretofore barely dabbled in: trainers.

Current Issue

Transponder Upgrades: Driven By ADS-B

For some owners, an ADS-B upgrade could seriously blow the budget since it might also include buying a new transponder system. That’s because the requirements in FAR 91.215 still apply, even when the ADS-B mandate takes effect in 2020. The good news is our recent market sweep uncovered a number of next-generation multifunction transponders that handle all ADS-B and transponder functions in one box, even serving as nifty weather and traffic displays. Better yet, a one-box solution eases concerns about long term cross-brand compatibility. Still, the buying decision is muddied by rapidly changing ADS-B solutions. In this article, we’ll put a fresh eye on new models and interfaces, plus offer tips on evaluating an existing vintage model.

Gear of the Year: No Slam-Dunk

Our editor’s choice awards are all about innovation and value. As we look back at the last 12 issues of Aviation Consumer, we find no shortage of credible products, especially in the ADS-B and aircraft consumable markets. But no single product or company stood out for being the most innovative. So to keep our high standards in check, we won’t hand out an award for product or company of the year. Instead, we’ll present a combination of a dozen products and companies that we believe deserve equal recognition for being the best of the best.

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?

Aircraft Finance: A Good Time to Buy

With the stock market in record territory, the economy still hesitant and fuel prices lower than in convenient memory, we decided to take a look at the state of the aircraft finance world. The Federal Reserve has kept the interest rates at historic lows—has that been reflected in available loan rates for aircraft purchases? Is this a good time to finance an airplane?

Display Upkeep: iCloth Safe, Effective

Here’s a valuable lesson one pilot learned the hard way: commercial-grade glass cleaners and avionics display lenses are an expensive combination. Of course, if he read the pilot’s guide for the new Aspen, Garmin and Avidyne flight displays installed in his panel, he would have left the Windex at home. But there are several new products on the market which claim to safely clean and protect avionics and tablet displays. Are they safe? To find out, we put some serious money on the line and gave them a try. We also asked manufacturers for official guidance on cleaning displays.

Avidyne's Updated Warranty: Glasses Excluded

Avidyne once had a glass and bezel refurbishment add-on for its AeroPlan extended warranty, but it says that glass and bezel restoration coverage is now excluded from all Avidyne warranty plans. In fact, even if you do send a unit in for warranty repair, Avidyne will likely charge an additional fee to replace the bezel glass.

Mooney 231/252

If age mellows people, the same might be said for airplanes, at least if the airplane in question is Mooney’s M20K series. The airplane arrived in the GA market at a time when turbocharging was relatively new and the demand for high-flying aircraft was thin. Mooney didn’t get the M20K’s turbocharging system right on the first try and the airplane developed a reputation as a maintenance hog. Thirty years later, that reputation has been mostly burnished and the fact that the M20K bores along between 160 and 200 knots on relatively little fuel has improved the model’s used price.

Letters: July 2015

Overall, editor Larry Anglisano did a great job of explaining the Skyvision Salus-3 portable ADS-B Out/In solution and the Xtreme Vision software (June 2015 Aviation Consumer.) We were impressed with the article’s accuracy and his ability to review it without personal bias. However, there are a few finer points related to certification.

First Word: July 2015

There might be, but only if you fly an airliner. I wouldn’t count on an extension of the 2020 ADS-B equipage mandate for the rest of us. The airlines (through the organization Airlines for America, A4A) have proposed a five-year transition period for complying with the mandate because it says there aren’t enough retrofit equipment options to equip its airplanes by 2020. Specifically, these are ADS-B-compatible transponders and the WAAS GPS receivers required to interface with them.

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