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Subscribers Only - For the April 2015 issue of Aviation Consumer, our Used Aircraft Guide will be on the Aviat Husky, the rugged backwoods taildragger. We want to know what it’s like to own these planes, how much they cost to operate, maintain and insure and what they’re like to fly.
Subscribers Only - Don’t underestimate the complexity and cost that tags along with ADS-B antenna work, especially for fabric and composite aircraft. The top of the Legend Cub in the photo to the left is already tight on antenna real estate. Example pricing below is for basic installations.
Subscribers Only - Our review of the 100 most recent Piper Comanche accidents uncovered something we expected in an aging fleet—a substantial number of accidents due to failure to perform needed maintenance or maintenance that was poorly performed. It showed up in engine failures, 12 gear collapses and an inflight breakup where a badly repaired stabilator came apart.
Subscribers Only - As we researched icing training for owners of non-FIKI airplanes, we generally found that owners of FIKI airplanes could get training in actual icing conditions without too much trouble. Organized courses are not common—although instructors and organizations sometimes include training in actual icing conditions as a part of the checkout process. Also, owners who took recurrent training in their airplanes sometimes worked with their instructors to pick up some ice while doing so.
Subscribers Only - Paul Fuhrman of the Lord Corporation (founded by Hugh Lord in 1924) gave us a simplified explanation of what is involved in designing a device that will effectively vibrationally isolate the airframe and engine of an airplane. Step one is ground vibration testing of the airframe to find its natural vibrational frequency. Every object has a natural resonant frequency—think of a tuning fork. All engine isolation systems are designed to prevent the suspended mass—the engine and propeller—from exciting the resonant frequency of the airframe. Doing so will cause everything from discomfort to the occupants through damage to the airframe and components.
Subscribers Only - The chassis dimensions speak for themselves. The Galaxy Tab S, right, is slightly longer, narrower and thinner than the iPad mini 3, left. That makes the iPad slightly better for viewing approach plates, in our view. Notice the fewer main menu icons on the Galaxy that’s running Garmin’s Pilot mobile app? That’s because Garmin’s Android version of the app doesn’t support synthetic vision, terrain/obstacle alerting and static maps. It won’t display traffic alerts, but it will display ADS-B traffic targets. Also missing is chart annotation capability—that’s where you can scribble notes and draw on a georeferenced approach chart.
Subscribers Only - Clockwise from upper left: Once airports are entered or a flight plan is selected, you gain access to current METAR data by tapping on a METAR plot on the map. When the Airport WX layer is active, Airport Details displays METAR, TAF, winds and temperatures aloft, plus NOTAMs for the selected airport. A Graphical Turbulence slider maps the potential turbulence at various altitudes, from light to extreme. This is color-coded on the map in four shades of purple. SiriusXM Satellite Radio is streamed from the SXAR-1 via a separate Bluetooth link. It requires an optional entertainment subscription, but is controlled from the Pilotbrief app. The app’s main menu and weather overlay tabs are the bottom of the screen, while flight planning data is at the top.
As a motorcyclist, I’ve been watching with interest new electric motorcycle technology. With e-bikes, it’s easy to hit high points in styling, handling and even speed, but endurance is another matter. Most models don’t appeal to road trippers and performance riders, but there is some interest for short urban commuting. Pondering Harley-Davidson’s LiveWire electric model, it has plenty of cool-factor to consider adding it to a collection, but as a primary rider, I think it’s going to be a tough sell. If that’s the case, it might appear the Motor Company has a marketing challenge on its hands. Heck, the old-school Harley demographic still resists liquid-cooled engines.
I am disappointed that so few people (and aviation magazines) are making a stink about the lack of anonymity and privacy associated with most ADS-B solutions. If there is anyone that believes that the FAA, Customs, Homeland Security and the media won’t eventually be using that ADS-B Out data for fees, monitoring, enforcement and speculative reporting, then I have a bridge to sell you in New York City.
Subscribers Only - With increasing disenchantment with Apple’s market dominance and high-cost accessories, some pilots have been asking the $500 question: Is Samsung’s mid-sized Galaxy Tab S 8.4 good enough to ditch the iPad once and for all? In evaluating new navigation apps for Android we were impressed with the Galaxy tablet, and the more we used it in a variety of cockpits, the more we preferred it over the original iPad mini.
Subscribers Only - It’s probably a journalistic pretense to imply that there’s anything practical about light sport airplanes. Few of them are used for travel and even fewer are flown in the kind of weather that a utilitarian airplane like a Bonanza or Cirrus has to tackle to earn its keep. So in reviewing LSAs, we’re talking about big, expensive toys and that certainly applies to the Searey Elite. If ever there were a pure sport airplane, the Searey amphibian ought to qualify. It’s slow, doesn’t carry much, isn’t exceptionally comfortable and won’t fly far. But it offsets all that with hell-for-leather fun that buyers looking for something different might find appealing. The Searey began life as an amphibian kit aircraft, evolved to an ELSA and is now selling as a full-up SLSA as the Searey Elite, an upscale, glass cockpit version of what was once a bone-basic airplane. At a $158,000 base price, the Searey’s sticker is about $25,000 higher than a typical land light sport, but less than the soon-to-be Icon A5 ($189,000) and way less than the $370,000 Lisa AKOYA. Since we last examined the Searey in 2009, the company has received an infusion of investment, built a new factory and evolved a new model, the Elite.
Let’s assume you own a vintage Piper Cherokee, Cessna 172 or Grumman Tiger, to name a few entry-level rides. Perhaps it is equipped with a basic navcomm, older Mode C transponder and non-WAAS GPS—or no panel GPS at all because you fly with a tablet computer or portable GPS. You’ve probably discovered the dilemma in finding a complete mandate-compliant ADS-B In and Out solution that won’t require a complicated installation. Garmin is attempting to solve that with its new GDL84 ADS-B transceiver, a product that trickles down from the flagship GDL88 system.
Subscribers Only - Training to handle in-flight icing is one of aviation’s worst Catch-22s: Most pilots fly airplanes that aren’t certified for flight into known icing—therefore it’s illegal to take dual to get experience in ice in those airplanes—so the first time a pilot gets into icing conditions, he or she is all alone in of the most complex situations in aviation. The FAA’s “just say no” to flight into icing approach is not rational given that, according to an AOPA study of NTSB data, icing accounts for 10 percent of all weather-related accidents and 22 percent of fatal weather-related accidents. With those kind of odds, it would seem that a pilot who flies IFR where there’s a risk of airframe icing would do his or her utmost to get hands-on experience in dealing with ice in the type of airplane she or he normally flies.
Subscribers Only - Responding to blistering competition from a handful of free ADS-B weather apps and receivers, SiriusXM is out with the new $699 SXAR-1 portable Broadcast weather and entertainment receiver. The receiver wirelessly streams WSI weather data directly to the iPad, eliminating the need for a panel display or portable GPS. As tablet computers replace portable GPS systems, SiriusXM faces a hardware problem. Garmin’s market-saturated GXM-series puck-style XM weather receivers will only work with Garmin portables, plus the majority of them won’t receive new weather packages and lower subscription costs. That’s not sitting well with some subscribers.
Subscribers Only - Engine mounts have it tough. The elastomer doughnut-looking things that live between the engine and airframe to prevent the vibration of the ironmongery up front from beating the rest of the aircraft to flinders not only live in a harsh environment, they are generally forgotten after being installed and are subject to an ongoing identity crisis.
I thought the original Flying Eyes Hawk pilot sunglasses, designed with headset-friendly webbed temples, had enough utility to justify the $170 price, but for many flights they were off my head more than they were on. That’s because I found the lenses to be too dark, even in partly cloudy conditions. I just happened to be looking for prescription sunglasses that can serve flying missions, plus a variety of high-impact adventure sports. Ready to pull the trigger on a new pair of WileyX glasses, I instead invested in the latest Flying Eyes with transitions lenses to see if they could handle my abuse and how they perform in the cockpit. Here’s a field report.
Subscribers Only - First hitting the market in 1958, the Piper PA-24 Comanche was a radical departure for Piper. Until then, the company had built mostly rag-and-tube taildraggers. Instead, the Comanche was a thoroughly modern design focused on speed and good looks, and targeting the high-performance piston-single market being tapped by the Beech Bonanza and Cessna 210, among others. Piper’s sleek, roomy all-metal design featured an oval-section fuselage, tapered laminar-flow wing and sharp-edged styling. The looks still turn heads today. A South African company is even building an all-composite lookalike for the kit-built crowd, the Ravin. More important for the discriminating used aircraft buyer, the Comanche lends itself to upgrading, and owners who bring the airplane up to the state-of-the-art tend to hang onto them forever. There’s no shortage of mods that step the aircraft up in speed and looks.