April 2014

Cessna Cardinal

Subscribers Only Although the design is more than four decades old, the Cessna 177 Cardinal—with its racy sloped windshield, wide doors and strutless wings—looks more modern than the newest Skyhawks coming out of Cessna’s Independence, Kansas, plant. Yet, sadly, the Cardinal is a poster child for why innovation and audacity in general aviation development has often met dismal results in the market. Despite high expectations for a design that would usher in new thinking in light aircraft, the Cardinal had a rocky start and was gone from Cessna’s inventory a decade after it emerged.

Smartphone Wind Meter: Speed, But No Direction

Subscribers Only Talk about an impulse purchase. When we spotted the Vaavud digital wind meter for smartphones in the Sporty’s catalog, the marketing photos made it easy to justify dropping $49.95 plus shipping on the thing. Turns out it didn’t provide the level of utility we anticipated, at least for our flying missions.

Astronics Max-Viz EVS: Thermal Imaging

Subscribers Only It’s easy to confuse the Max-Viz enhanced vision system (EVS)with popular synthetic vision systems (SVS). These include Garmin’s proprietary SVT and Aspen’s ESV synthetic vision software. While synthetic vision is just that—a GPS-based synthetic depiction of terrain, obstacle and landscape features—the Max-Viz product from Oregon-based Astronics is a live moving image of the outside environment.

Making Your Prop Last: Neglect Is Expensive

Subscribers Only The good news is that aluminum propellers are overdesigned and overbuilt so they operate safely for years. The bad news is that aluminum propellers are overdesigned and overbuilt so they operate safely for years. While each has a published TBO, for some reason aircraft owners who wouldn’t dream of running an engine past TBO will utterly ignore that number for a propeller.

LSA vs. Standard: Sacrifice for Savings

Subscribers Only Let’s assume you had a cash budget of up to $160,000 to buy an airplane. Your short list of required equipment includes a glass cockpit with autopilot, a modern interior, plus a proven engine that’s easy to service and economical to operate. You’ll use the plane for local flying, short trips and perhaps some basic instrument training.

Xtreme Decathlon: Formidable Yet Refined

Subscribers Only Sometimes you just want to throttle the marketing types. Hanging the purposely edgy “Xtreme” name on the new Decathlon brings to mind a machine with handling that you’re lucky to survive and of no practical use outside of aerobatics.

Aspen’s Evolution VFR: Scaled Down, Lower Cost

Subscribers Only Aspen Avionics said its market survey showed that many VFR pilots would purchase primary flight displays, but can’t justify the high cost of the upgrade. How high? In some cases, a single-screen PFD retrofit can cost $15,000 and higher.

Small-Engine Overhauls: Affordable, Supportable

Subscribers Only The words “cheap” and “overhaul” aren’t known to appear in the same sentence, but it’s true that smaller, modest engines are cheaper to overhaul than high-horsepower sixes. But what about old and modest, specifically Conti-nental’s numerous A-65 series and its offshoots? Are these the gateway to affordable flying or just doddering antiques getting ever more expensive to maintain?

Letters: April 2014

Subscribers Only In the March 2014 issue of Aviation Consumer, you covered the latest version of Garmin’s Pilot tablet app along with the new GDL39 3D attitude indicator display. While the article reported on the more modern appearance and other new features within the app, you didn’t note that the colors on the trip planning and flight planning screens changed to a much darker gray from the previous lighter color. The text labels for each field are nearly impossible to read when set against the new darker screen, especially when viewed in a bright cockpit.

First Word: April 2014

Subscribers Only That’s precisely what I was looking for as I walked the static displays at the 2014 U.S. Sport Aviation Expo in Sebring, Florida. The January event is a growing venue that unofficially kicks off a fresh flying season. I look forward to the show because I use it to gauge the health of the LSA market and to sample the mood of buyers in the lower end of the market. The Sun ‘n Fun international fly-in, which follows in early April, is more revealing.