November 2015

Download The Full Issue PDF

Subscribers Only - …

Satellite Trackers: 406 ELT KILL

Subscribers Only - If the Internet killed the MTV video star, then it’s also pulling the plug on new ELT installations. With family and friends glued to flight tracking websites like, plus their smartphones for satellite-delivered texts, emails and tracking maps, it’s no wonder old-school ELT sales are tanking. We actually saw a slowing of ELT installations several years ago when Transport Canada backed off on its initial threat of mandating 406 MHz beacons for flights in Canadian airspace (a threat that sparked a rumor of similar regulations in the works for the U.S.) Coincidentally, that was roughly the time that satellite messengers hit the market and also when NOAA’s SARSAT (Search and Rescue Satellite Aided Tracking) stopped listening for 121.5 MHz ELT pings. But based on our discussions with several busy avionics shops, sales and installations of modern 406 MHz ELT systems aren’t dead—yet—even as flyers snag $150 satellite communicators, including Spot’s GEN3 messenger and more expensive systems like the Spidertracks and DeLorme InReach Iridium-based communicators. There are reasons why ELT technology is hanging on.

Tecnam P2010: Skyhawk Contender

Subscribers Only - If imitation really is the sincerest form of flattery, the Skyhawk should be flattered indeed by the likes of the Italian manufacturer, Tecnam. Last summer, Tecnam began marketing its P2010 Lycoming-powered single in the U.S., having gained a sales foothold in Europe. It’s not quite accurate to call the P2010 a Skyhawk knockoff because it’s a substantially different airplane. But it follows the same idea: 180-HP four-banger; four seats; modest payload, albeit with a slightly faster cruise speed.

G1000: Slow and Steady to the finish line

Subscribers Only - As we often do with products and companies—partly for our own cynical amusement—my colleague Paul Bertorelli and I were recently feeding off one another and poking holes in Garmin’s hugely successful G1000 integrated avionics. In case you haven’t been counting, the system turned 10 years old last year. In avionics life, that’s a geriatric zone, which was partly the nature of our chiding.

Letters: November 2015

Great report on used Beech Barons in your October 2015 issue. I recently met up with a friend to fly some old Baron 58s (which were used as freight dogs) to a salvage yard to be parted out. The 58 Baron my friend flew had 20,899 hours on the airframe, a current annual inspection and it flew great. The one I flew was young—with 14,390 hours on the airframe. This is proof of just how durable these airframes are. Compared to a model 55 “baby Baron,” the 58 Baron handles more like a bomber.

Avidyne Upgrades: Competitive, Maturing

For most of the past decade, we had all but given up on serious competition for Garmin in the full-panel upgrade market. Once-dominant BendixKing faded and Garmin dealt with UPS-AT by simply buying it. But now, somewhat quietly, comes Avidyne with a full line of products to make a head-to-head run at Garmin.

Tecnam's New Piston Twin

Subscribers Only - While both Diamond and Tecnam have introduced light twins during the past decade, the market hasn’t seen a new large-displacement, piston cabin-class twin since the early 1970s. But demand for such a thing isn’t quite dead, apparently.

Continental’s ECi Buy: Will It Spike Prices?

Subscribers Only - Continental Motors got the attention of engine shops and owners last spring when it bought Danbury Aerospace, a manufacturing group that includes San Antonio, Texas-based Engine Components International, or ECi.

Cylinder Survey: Lycoming, Superior Tops

Subscribers Only - Our latest cylinder survey yielded similar results as it did when we ran it in 2012. Again, Lycoming factory cylinders rated impressively well with our respondents—60 percent said they were happy, while another 28 percent were satisfied with them.

Spot GEN3 Tracker: Versatile, Priced Right

Subscribers Only - We’ve been on enough flying, boating, hiking and other adventure outings that put us out of cellular reach of family members accustomed to knowing our every move. That’s a communication void Spot is trying to fill with its latest GEN3 global satellite GPS messenger and tracking device.

iLevil 2 SW ADS-B: Improved GPS and Traffic

Subscribers Only - While portable GPS enjoyed a rousing market for more than a decade, portable ADS-B hasn’t been quite so impressive. The technology is mature enough that new products either fix bugs or show incremental improvements and the latter defines the latest portable from Levil Technology, the iLevil 2 SW.

Pilatus Crashes - No Smoking Gun

Subscribers Only - Our search of NTSB data for accidents involving the Pilatus PC-12 series airplanes turned up only 23 since the first was reported in 2001—and four were in countries outside the U.S. With so little data, there was no basis for forming any opinions about areas of concern.

Pilatus PC-12

Subscribers Only - Some airplane manufacturers build a model based on what it thinks a typical private owner might do with it. Not Swiss manufacturer Pilatus. For decades Pilatus has built models—including the PC-12 turboprop single—to specifically meet the missions of armed services throughout the world, including the U.S. Air Force (U-28A). Moreover, the PC-12’s launch customer was the Royal Flying Doctor Service of Australia for its work in the extremes of the outback—an environment that suits the PC-12 just fine. Got unimproved runways? The PC-12’s oversized tires can handle it, while trailing-link landing gear and an effective rudder make the single-pilot-approved big turboprop easy to land.