August 2016

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Subscribers Only - The wings on the A5 can be folded for storage or trailering (on an Icon designed trailer). The process takes about 30 seconds per wing to fold or unfold. We watched a first-timer take a minute to unfold a wing and lock it into position. To fold, a latching handle in the wing root is unlatched, the wing is pulled outboard via a handle at the tip, then rotated 90 degrees, moved aft 90 degrees and attached to the horizontal stabilizer inboard of its removable tip. To unfold, the process is reversed. The attachment latch will only lock if the wing is lined up correctly. The ailerons and flaps connect automatically through cam-type pushrod connections.

The New Icon Aircraft Purchase Agreement

When Icon released its original aircraft purchase agreement for the A5 the response within the industry was intense. While understanding that Icon was trying to control its product liability exposure contractually, the terms were decried as unreasonable. Icon listened and in mid-June rolled out a newer, shorter agreement. It is a combined purchase and operating agreement that, we think, is designed to help reduce Icon’s exposure to product liability claims over accidents where the pilot is…

Icon Flight Training: Mandatory

The second leg in Icon’s approach to safely making flying more accessible to those who want to do it (after the design of the aircraft) is an on-purpose training program that it controls. We spent time with Greg Zackney, Icon’s director of flight training, discussing the program it is putting in place and reviewing some of the training materials they have created. …

Anti-Corrosion Treatment: When? How Much?

Subscribers Only - Whether and when to apply CorrosionX or ACF-50 depends on the age of the airplane and where it primarily flies. Over the last 15 years, manufacturing changes have meant that new airplanes come out of the factory with far superior corrosion-resistant treatments than previously. Based on what I learned preparing this article, if your airplane is older than 15 years and it has not had an FTFC treatment in at least five years, it would…

Flight Trial: Some NITS to Accept

Subscribers Only - We set out for a flight demo in Jeff Kauffman’s AeroWave-equipped Beech A36 Bonanza with enough smartphones, tablets and laptop computers to keep a teenager busy until the tanks run dry. As expected, the AeroWave showed some limitations that buyers need to understand. [IMGCAP(1)] Connecting a smartphone is easy. Put it in airplane mode so it doesn’t try to connect to a ground network, look for the AeroWave network in Wi-Fi settings and type the password to…

Diesel Reset: Improved Economics

When modern aerodiesel engines made their surprise appearance at the Berlin Airshow in 2002, the numbers didn’t add up once the costs ultimately came to light. The engines were certainly economical, but they were twice as expensive as gasoline engines, had half the TBOs and required pricey gearboxes and other components at short-run hours intervals. A decade and a half later, these automotive-based engines may finally be turning a corner of sorts, with the announcement by Continental Motors last spring that its CD135/155 series engines will have replacement intervals increased to 2100 hours from 1500 hours.

The FAA’S $500 ADS-B Handout Tightens Competition

As you probably heard, the FAA is offering a limited first-come, first-served $500 rebate for certain mandate-compliant ADS-B equipment installations. This isn’t a generous gift to aircraft owners, of course. Obviously, it’s the FAA’s first effort (there could be more) to get owners into avionics shops to have ADS-B Out equipment installed before the end of 2019. While the ADS-B market has become sharply competitive, the decline in equipment prices hasn’t exactly created a surge of upgrades. The FAA says about 18,000 GA airplanes and 500 or so commercial aircraft have equipped so far. That means as many as 150,000 still need to be equipped in the remaining 42 months. After paying for a basic $4000 ADS-B project, eventually finding a $500 check in the mailbox is better than nothing. But, there’s a dilemma, which is stirring competition.

Static Wicks, the Best GPS, and Sticky Headsets

Subscribers Only - During our research, we asked static wick manufacturers about ICAW procedures (instructions for continued airworthiness) and all noted that aside from a preflight visual inspection, it’s important to look for signs of corrosion where the wick attaches to the skin. Additionally, you’ll want to inspect the tips. Testing rarely happens on the shop level.

Icon A5: A Sophisticated and Fun Aircraft

If there’s anyone in the aviation community who hasn’t heard about the Icon A5 S-LSA, she or he probably lives under a rock. The two-place, Rotax-powered amphib has been the subject of more breathless excitement in the non-aviation media than we can conveniently recall. In the aviation world, the level of coverage and the fact that Icon is assertively targeting its marketing to induce non-pilots to discover the excitement of flying has resulted in a level of outspoken opinions about the airplane and company that we haven’t seen since the hype and meltdown of Eclipse and the BD-5.

BendixKing AeroWave: Inmarsat-Based Data

Subscribers Only - To date, the trouble with cabin Wi-Fi systems has been two-fold: The hardware and data cost can be way too expensive for the market’s lower end, plus bandwidth issues generally make them too lousy to be useful when compared to ground-based web surfing. We’ll cut to the chase and say up front that BendixKing’s AeroWave 100 system succeeds in addressing the price thing, but doesn’t quite conquer the bandwidth limitations. But compared to other systems we’ve used, we think it represents serious progress from an installation and cost perspective.

Aircraft Corrosion Prevention: Cheap Insurance

Subscribers Only - While researching information on aircraft corrosion and corrosion prevention, I ran across my nomination for understatement of the week in an FAA publication. It said, “. . . the amount of maintenance required to repair accumulated corrosion damage and bring the aircraft back up to standard will usually be quite high.” No kidding. The reality is staggering—some years ago I was shown the bills paid by an owner for corrosion repair. He had bought a Louisiana-based twin without a prebuy examination. Over the next two years he expended more than he’d paid for the airplane to repair damage to the structure and skins from corrosion.

Checklist Apps: Limited Utility

Aircraft manufacturers provide checklists in their POH/AFMs and we’ve dutifully copied those into separate—usually laminated—checklists for use in the airplane. Various third parties, including sureCheck and CheckMate, have attempted to improve on that physical format by taking much of the same information and condensing it to a few dense pages. Now we’ve got various tablet and EFB checklist apps, plus utilities in our panel-mount devices. Instead of laminated paper, the same static information is available on a high-quality screen, but the operating paradigm is unchanged: Read the challenge; read the response; repeat. (Although, some apps allow a checklist item to be actually checked off, making it easier to keep your place.)

Faro Air In-Ear Headset: Comfy, But No Bluetooth

Subscribers Only - One perk of the job is trying out a wide variety of headsets. Two models that impressed me enough to fork over my own cash to own are the Bose A20 and the Clarity Aloft in-ear headset. In fact, I like the Clarity so much I find myself flying with it more than the Bose. That’s why I was anxious to try the new Air in-ear model from Las Vegas, Nevada-based Faro Aviation. Company principal Kevin Faro has been designing a series of aviation headsets since 1999, the result of his dissatisfaction with other headsets on the market. The company currently offers four models, to include the $190 passive G2, a $390 ANR version of the G2, the $690 flagship G3 and the $390 Air. I’ve been flying with the Air for nearly a month, while also offering it up to passengers and other pilots to try. Here’s a field report.

Cirrus SR22

Subscribers Only - Since Cirrus Design first morphed from a quirky kit supplier to a full-blown aircraft manufacturer in 1998, it has consistently proven that it got the vision thing right. The entry-level SR20 and flagship SR22 in their various iterations have proven hot sellers and good performers, with unusually loyal customers. This seems the perfect setup as the company moves closer to delivering its seven-seat, single-engine Vision SF50 personal jet—a logical step up from an SR22.