Subscribers Only Most piston twins have carved themselves a market share for a few years, then vanished as market conditions changed. Pipers Twin Comanche and Aztec are examples and so is the Beech Travel Air, Duke and Duchess. On the other hand, for various reasons, some twins have endured and Piper builds two of them, the Seminole and the Seneca. Both have endured for various reasons, although neither is made in much volume these days. Its easy to see why the Seneca has endured. It does nothing exceedingly wellits not fast, nor a joy to fly nor will it turn heads on the rampbut it does a lot well enough.
Subscribers Only The light sport aircraft market was hyped up with so much promise, but still struggles to deliver real payoff. Its not that the aircraft arent sellingthey are, as much as anything is selling. But market has been primarily one of cash, not credit. While credit is tight in all economic sectors today, LSAs have some specific issues that make them a tougher sell to the bean counters at the bank.
Subscribers Only One of the unfortunate side effects of slow aircraft sales has been an erosion in the maintenance base. Many smaller shops have disappeared and some of those that remain are either losing the ability to do some kinds of work or are just declining to accept it. One maintenance procedure on the chopping block has been the resealing or repair of wet wing fuel tanks, especially in Mooneys, but in a few other models as well. At best, repairing weeping wet-wing tanks is a dark art, at worst, its something some owners say they have to have done several times to stop the leaks, if even the leaks can be stopped.
Subscribers Only For the moment, lets set aside the vulgar discussion of money and consider whether turbine aircraft are all theyre claimed to be. Well, of course they are. Case closed. Turbines are faster than piston-engine aircraft, fly higher and since all the engines moving parts are always rotating in the same direction, theyre generally more reliable. Moreover, the owner of a turbine aircraft is untroubled by that pesky problem of whether a high-octane fuel will be available and what it will cost. Theres no argument that Jet A is the world fuel of the future and its available in parts of the world where high-octane avgas has long since disappeared.
Subscribers Only The iPad cockpit revolution has been slow to incorporate data-link weather. Many iPad fliers take their downloaded weather from the FBO and work with that, what 3G they can get in the air and calls to Flight Service. Datalink weather for the iPad via ADS-B has actually been around for a while (Portable ADS-B WX, May 2011 Aviation Consumer), but limited coverage and limited pilot acceptance has mean limited equipage. Now that Baron Services, who supplies the XM weather service to XM/Sirius, has entered the iPad age with their Mobile Link will datalink sweep the iPad universe?
Subscribers Only Mag compasses live hard lives. They bake in the sun-splashed heat of the windscreen. They sustain endless amounts of airframe vibration, which not only makes them a challenge to read with accuracy but also contributes to ultimate failure. You probably dont think much about the compass in your aircraft until it spews its fluid all over the instrument panel and you realize FAR 91.205 requires you to fix it. Replacement options are slim and while a vertical card model is considered a step above the traditional whiskey design, installation technique is critical, and surprisingly expensive.
Subscribers Only If theres anything surprising about light sport airplanes, its that there isnt much surprising about light sport airplanes. Bolt a 100-HP Rotax to a 750-pound airframe and you get something that climbs about 500 FPM, cruises about 110 knots and ranges to 500 miles. Will that be high wing or low wing? Amidst this calm sea of sameness, does opportunity lurk? Renegade Aircraft, a small startup youve probably never heard of, thinks so. Renegade is marketing an upscale, sporty LSA that represents the sharp wedge of handful of LSAs powered not by Rotax, but by Lycomings new O-233 engine.
Subscribers Only I read your synopsis on our data in the cockpit; how discouraging. (See Aviation Consumer, December 2011.) May I ask a question and make a comment? First, I think I vaguely remember reading some time ago that a portion of the aviation fuel tax had been set aside and saved up to fund the NextGen system, and that these funds were diverted to other uses not even within aviation. Am I correct or mistaken on this, or did something similar to this happen?
Subscribers Only When I travel around and visit various aviation businesses, a common complaint is how difficultand expensiveit is to move a certification project of any kind through the FAA. The smaller the company is, the more stressful the process is because major companies like Garmin and Cessna cast a darker shadow and have the staff who can spend time doing nothing but jumping through FAA hoops. Small companies cant afford that. When light sport came along, the idea was to spur innovation by getting the FAA out of the loop and letting manufacturers do their own approvals with loose oversight by ASTM International.