Subscribers Only Owners who fancy a little light aerobaticsor even semi-serious competitionmight lust after a Pitts S1 or an Extra 300. But then reality sets in. Those airplanes require no small degree of skill to simply fly safely and thats before we consider the insurance premiums. And thats why so many owners inevitably gravitate toward the Citabria or the Decathlon, starter aerobatic airplanes that turn out to have much more capability than many realize until they take a close look. These models have a lot going for them. They arent expensive to buy or maintain, they dont have any serious gotchas and any pilot of average skill can learn to fly and land them safely. Moreover, they can double as respectable back-country flyers, which is something youre not likely to do in a Pitts or an Extra.
Subscribers Only After a long period of difficulty obtaining it, TCP has come back on the market in volume and thats a good thing, especially if you own an engine thats susceptible to lead fouling of plugs. TCP is used to reduce lead deposits on spark plugs, thus reducing fouling. It also helps reduce valve deposits. This means better performance and less need to pull plugs to manually clean them, resulting in money saved and reduced frustration. Using TCP is simple. It employs a syringe and fluid can arrangement, where TCP is squirted into the aircraft fuel tank at fill-up. One ounce treats 10 gallons, so it adds less than 10 cents a gallon to fuel cost. (A quart of TCP is $35.)
Subscribers Only Most communications radios are designed for installation into a traditional radio stack. Thats great for traditional panels, but they can be a non-starter in classic LSA and ultralight craft. The market offers few choices other than Becker Avionics for standalone comm radios that fit in tight spaces. Now UK-based Trig Avionics offers a worthy alternative with the TY-91 and TY-92 transceivers. Trig is best known for their innovative and space-saving transponder solutions, including the recently certified TT22 ADS-B unit. The new TY-91 and TY-92 comm radios are pitched to complement the similarly packaged transponders, adding to the growing Trig product line.
Subscribers Only Its one of those aircraft truisms that performance requires compromise. Controllability at low speed means compromising the wing that enjoys high-speed cruise. Thats what makes vortex generators (VGs) seem too good to be true: They claim lower stall speeds in singles and twins without a penalty in cruise speed. Sometimes they bump up the gross weight. For twins, they reduce minimum controllable airspeed (Vmc). This is speed below which controlled flight becomes impossible with the critical engine failed and the other engine at full power. Below Vmc, there isnt enough rudder and aileron authority to counter the natural yaw and roll of the asymmetrical thrust. Translation: The airplane rolls over and crashes.
Subscribers Only In-flight weather for the iPad is nothing new. SkyRadars ADS-B receiver worked with WingX for well over a year, and Barons Mobile Link can deliver XM satellite weather to ForeFlight, Global Nav Source, FlightGuide and others. What is new is some competition. Sportys Pilot Shop teamed up with ForeFlight and device manufacturer Appareo to offer ADS-B weather on an iPad with the $799 Stratus. Not only has the $799 Stratus appearance forced a price-drop on competing units, its also set a new bar for simplicity. Stratus requires no power cords or external antennas for an average flight. The box has all of one button. Turn it on. Go fly.
Subscribers Only We dont envy Italian GPS veteran AvMap in their attempt to compete in todays world of cockpit iPad and with Garmins well-rounded line of portable navigators. Garmin and Apple all but own the aviation GPS and mapping market. Still, weve been impressed with nearly every model of AvMap navigator weve tested over the years. The company has a knack for offering high-end mapping displays packaged in a case thats convenient and rugged enough to throw around the most hostile cockpit. And so it goes with the new flagship EKP-V. We were surprised that the latest-generation EKP doesnt have a touchscreen. But the units utilitarian capability and brilliant screen take the bite out of this shortcoming. Some might even prefer it.
Subscribers Only When we speak to companies that build new utility airplanesCubCrafters, Champion, Maule, Aviat and the likewere often told that buyers tart the things up with every feature imaginable suitable for jaunts into the bush. But do the owners really fly into remote mountain strips and river sandbars? Some do, but theyre just as likely to hangar the things in Houston or Kansas City and use them as fun flyers. Were sure that comprises at least half of the market for the Aviat Husky A-1C, which comes as close to a new hardcore taildragging bush airplane as we can imagine.
Subscribers Only If new aircraft manufacturing ventures require a degree of faith to succeed, Austro Engine GmbH, grafted on to the side of the Diamond Aircraft factory in Wiener Neustadt, Austria must be the industrial equivalent of the Vatican. Its not that Austro has no chance of successthe reverse may very well be truebut that its investing heavily for a future that many in the industry cant yet draw into sharp focus. The uncertain future of avgasit seems to be all but dead in Europe and approaching life support in the U.S.should make diesel engines a natural for strong growth. But with aircraft sales in the tank, that growth has failed to materialize. Gasoline powerplants still outsell diesels by a wide margin and some diesel projectsDeltaHawk, for instance, and Thielerts slow-as-50-weight-oil life extension efforts, have a forever-over-the-horizon quality. The exception is Austro.
Subscribers Only Your article on lightning detectors (see Aviation Consumer, April 2012) underplays how good Insights Strike Finder is and how good a value it is. I cut em closer than recommended, but my Strike Finder never steers me wrong. Your article suggests that downloaded radar images can be 30 minutes old. With most storms going through a 20- to 40-minute cycles from birth to death, I consider this worthless. Ive been trusting my life to Strike Finders since about 1990 for nine years and then a new one in 2002 (with internal gyro stabilizing and the super-bright display) when I got my Arrow. They never steer me wrong and Ive never had the slightest problem with either of them.
Subscribers Only When you put a sharp pencil to the concept, diesel engines should be a slam dunk against gasoline engines. Their fuel specifics are terrific, they have lots of torque and, potentially, they have long overhaul cycles. Modern ECU-based diesels have headroom on both performance and economy, so its realistic to expect improvements in both. Yet, the market sort of stumbles along, even with avgas at $6-plus and looking increasingly threatened with extinction in Europe, if not in the U.S. If you add up recent production figures, gasoline aircraft engines continue to outsell diesel options by a wide margin. While its true that the diesels from Diamond are making inroads, its also true that Diamond is the only major OEM with a serious diesel program.