September 2016

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Subscribers Only - Despite rumors, the new M600 wing is not recycled from the jet Piper was developing some years ago; it was designed specifically for the M600. It carries a radar pod incorporated into the leading edge, a lower drag configuration than slinging it under the wing. We were told that there was initial concern with adverse stall effects with a leading-edge mounted pod, but there proved to be none. We noted that the stall strips on the leading edge were symmetrical on each wing and when we did stalls, there was no sign of roll off at the break. The main gear is further aft than on the M500 and has a six inch wider track.

Can Autopilots Ride the Wave of FAA Leniency?

Much like low-cost EFIS and other gee-whiz technology that’s been available in the non-certified aircraft market, pilots of experimentals have long enjoyed autopilot systems chock-full of advanced features. But with few exceptions, the retrofit autopilot market—and I’m talking about systems for modest entry-level Part 23 airplanes—has been stuck with systems carrying technology left over from the early 1990s, but with 2016 price tags. I’ll be direct: While the S-Tec autopilot line (now offered by Genesis Aerosystems) has proven reliable, I think buyers expect more modern features than the venerable System 30 and System 55X (to name two popular systems) offer.

Letters: September 2016

Subscribers Only - This year at AirVenture, Quiet Technologies caught my attention, so I got a demo of its $359 Halo in-ear model and bought one. Initially, the headset offered a good fit and promised to be quiet. When I started the engine, I immediately noticed low-frequency noise that isn’t present in my Lightspeed. I reserved judgement until two hours in cruise flight at 11,000 feet.

Piper M600: More of Everything

The M600 uses the fuselage—with beef ups—and a higher-power version of the engine from the M500. The M600 also has a new wing—marketing claims it’s a clean-sheet design—that carries 90 gallons more fuel than the Meridian, allowing the M600 50 percent more range, a 958-pound higher gross weight and 100 more pounds in the cabin with full fuel. The M600 is also Piper’s first airplane to use the sophisticated Garmin G3000 avionics suite.

Garmin G3000: Flight Levels Above G1000

For those who lost track of the OEM avionics market for turboprops and light jets, Garmin’s G3000 may seem like a new system, but it was actually unveiled at the NBAA convention way back in 2009. The system isn’t limited to Piper’s M600. You’ll find the G3000 in Daher’s TBM930 turboprop single, in Cessna CJ+ series jets and in the Cirrus Vision Jet, currently undergoing certification. There are more applications coming. Textron announced that the G3000 will be in the front office of the Cessna Denali turboprop single.

Pilot Medical Reform: Still Many Questions

Subscribers Only - Officially called the Third Class Medical Reform and General Aviation Pilot Protections, the bill finally oozed through Congress as part of a continuing resolution to fund the FAA. That improved its chances of passage, but it also required dropping some provisions that would have essentially all but eliminated any kind of medical certification for pilots who now require a Third Class medical. President Obama signed the measure into law on July 15, which sets the clock ticking on a 10-year look back on medical eligibility.

Need An Avionics Loan? Ask Nexa Capital

Subscribers Only - Need a cool 25 grand to pull the trigger on a retrofit? The claim: simply fill out an online application, get quick approval and the shop automatically gets paid and started on your dream panel. But is it really that easy? How does an avionics loan differ from traditional aircraft financing? And what ever happened to those government-backed private equity loans that were supposed to help fund a big majority of ADS-B upgrades? To answer those questions, we did some digging. Here’s what we learned.

AirVenture Diary: Competition, Stability

Subscribers Only - It’s hard not to pass judgment on the health of the industry by what companies unveil at AirVenture. Still, as we’ve witnessed before, major manufacturers may show up with more new product announcements than we can cover in a week, but that doesn’t mean the industry is rolling along fat, dumb and happy. This year, vendors did seem happy, and while many weren’t fat with record sales, everyone seemed to agree that the show simply had a positive vibe, perhaps signaling the stability we’ve been looking for in previous years.

Battery Upkeep: Charge It Right

As technicians, we know for certain that pilots have problems maintaining the health of aircraft batteries, with expensive consequences. If you’re among the crowd that buys a new one every two years—or sooner—you know that a new battery will set you back at least $165 for a Gill flooded model to well over $200 for a Concorde sealed model. These are entry-level prices that don’t include labor.

Aircraft Breakdown Assistance: Help Away From Home

Subscribers Only - If you’re a member of Sporty’s new Breakdown Assistance Program (BAP), no matter what time of the day or night it is, you pull your membership card out of the glove box, call the phone number on it and provide your membership information. Within 15 minutes—current average wait time is five minutes—you’ll get a call from a person who is an A&P and IA, is looking at the file on your airplane and will start the process of troubleshooting the problem and getting you on your way. From our perspective, it’s a 24/7 AAA service for general aviation.

Flight Stream 510: Wi-Fi Via Datacard

Subscribers Only - We’ll be gentle. If you recently brought your aircraft in for a Garmin Flight Stream 110/210 wireless Bluetooth data hub installation, stop reading and close this page. For readers who are still here, rejoice. You won’t have to go to an avionics shop for a pricey teardown installation. That’s because unlike the older Flight Stream—which required a wired serial connection with one of Garmin’s navigators—you can install the new Flight Stream 510 wireless system yourself in just seconds.

Cessna 206 Stationair

Subscribers Only - Cessna’s biggest fixed-gear piston single is really three models, though all are essentially the same airframe. It was originally introduced in 1963 as the 205, a fixed-gear 210, technically known as the 210-5. It had two doors up front and a relatively small rear door on the left side. The engine was a 260-HP Continental IO-470. This airplane was a fixed-gear version of the recently revamped 210; it was produced for two years, with 577 delivered.