December 2014

December Full Issue PDF

Subscribers Only - December Full Issue PDF

You Want Floats With That?

Subscribers Only - You’ve owned a Cessna 182 for several years and you’ve got it set up just the way you want—except you want it on floats. Can it be done for a reasonable cost or is it better to sell and buy a seaplane you like?


Subscribers Only - In our review of the 100 most recent Cessna 310 NTSB accident reports, landing gear problems led the list. There were 25 reported gear-related events, 20 of which were collapses. There were probably more because gear-up landings aren’t always reported—they almost never cause enough damage to meet the NTSB definition of a reportable accident.

Buy A Diesel? You Go First First

Subscribers Only - For small flight schools, even those with a dozen airplanes, the cost of airframes is a big economic driver. But for the mega schools like Embry Riddle and the University of North Dakota, price isn’t a deal breaker. Maintenance cost and dispatch reliability loom large because the schools fly thousands of hours.

Field Certs Need Fixing, Too

Subscribers Only - Since many aftermarket products are certified under AML STC (that’s blanket approval for a large number of aircraft models), the demand for FAA field approvals has lessened over recent years, but the process is complex. Field approvals require sizable amounts of paperwork and coordination on the part of the installer, while the aircraft owner absorbs the cost and downtime. Shops we talked with are frustrated with the process.

Smartphones: Satcomm Killer?

Subscribers Only - Why bother with complicated satellite connectivity when you likely have a smartphone in the pocket? For one thing, the FCC has banned the use of cell phones aboard aircraft per 47 CFR 22.925 l. Originally, it likely had to do with the way the cellular system works.

Cirrus Safety: Fatals Down

Subscribers Only - If it’s true that the SR20 flies like an SR22, it’s also true that it crashes like one. That’s why the Cirrus training approach for both aircraft are nearly identical. When we looked at 50 random SR20 crashes in the NTSB reports, it came as no surprise that runway loss of control events topped the chart.

Feedback Wanted: Cessna P210

Subscribers Only - For the March 2015 issue of Aviation Consumer, our Used Aircraft Guide will be on the Cessna P210, the pressurized six-seat piston single. 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. If you’d like your airplane to appear in the magazine, send us any photographs (full-size, high-resolution) you’d like to share to the email below. We welcome information on mods, support organizations or any other comments. Please send correspondence on the Cessna P210 by January 1, 2015, to:

First Word: December 2014

My recent month-long correspondence with a reader dealing with a botched ADS-B installation got me thinking about the logistic nightmare that’s already unfolding as the 2020 ADS-B mandate gets closer. More on how you might troubleshoot your installation, or at least figure out if it’s working or not, in a minute. First, some updated ADS-B stats.

Letters: December 2014

I just read with much interest your review of the Beech 35 series in the November 2014 issue of Aviation Consumer. My family and I owned an A35 for 10 years (that’s it in the lower photo), having sold it for upgrade to an A36. I tend to agree with most of your points, with a few exceptions and critical points you left out.

Cirrus SR20: Training, Traveling

Subscribers Only - According to GAMA sales numbers, the Cirrus SR22 outsold every other piston single in 2013, including the entry-level SR20. What’s interesting is that the SR20 arguably has a broader mission profile than the SR22. Cirrus even markets the SR20 as a dual-role aircraft that can function as a trainer and distance traveler. Perhaps that is why SR20s are more likely to end up on flight school ramps than in personal hangars.

Portable Datacomm: DeLorme inReach Tops

Subscribers Only - In today’s always-connected environment, the light airplane cabin is almost uniquely cut off from the world. For some, the sneaky workaround has been to simply use a smartphone for texting and talking at lower altitudes, but that violates an FCC ban.

FAA’s Delayed New Regs: Bureaucratic Paralysis

Subscribers Only - For the better part of the last decade, the aviation industry has been talking about a revised version of FAR 23 that would streamline and simplify aircraft certification, theoretically slowing the sharp rise in the cost of new aircraft. Yet two years after the Congress passed legislation requiring the FAA to complete the Part 23 revision by 2015, the FAA says it won’t meet the deadline. Even the Europeans are baffled by this delay; industry sources say Europe is far ahead of the U.S. in implementing these changes.

Choosing a Floatplane: What’s a Good One?

Subscribers Only - This article started with an email from a reader asking whether a Cessna 150 would be a good floatplane. It morphed from conversations with experienced floatplane pilots about the 150 on floats—okay, but not great—into what makes a good floatplane, what to look for when buying one and what’s involved in putting floats on your airplane.

Diesel Conversion: What’s Involved?

Subscribers Only - Last fall in a press release that few noticed, Continental Motors announced that a big flight school in Spain was converting 16 Skyhawks from Lycoming O-320s to Continental’s CD-135 diesel engines. It escaped much notice because diesel conversions are thought to be a European thing unlikely to gain much traction in the U.S.A Miami-based company called Africair wants to challenge that assumption by buying up recent-model Cessna 172s and transplanting them with Continental CD-135 or…

FlyQ EFB 1.4 for iPad: Alive and Improved

Although there was some pushback when AOPA offered its fee-based tablet navigation app, FlyQ EFB, there was enough to like, including an intuitive and shallow feature set and large onscreen characters. While Seattle Avionics owned all of the rights to the FlyQ EFB, AOPA was criticized for competing in the crowded app market.

Cessna 310

Subscribers Only - Few general aviation aircraft are as iconic as Cessna’s 310. Whether because of its aggressive ramp presence, its supporting role in an old television adventure series or its suitability for a wide range of missions, the 310 is what many non-pilots recall when piston twins come up in conversation. It’s arguably the first “modern” light twin and certainly a classic. While the 310 is all of those things, it’s also a complicated machine, production of which ended almost 30 years ago. The tall landing gear might be thought of as delicate and its systems demanding, both to maintain and operate. But it still offers substantial transportation value, and the many different variants that were built as the model evolved means it shouldn’t be hard to find the right one for your mission.