September 2019

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Subscribers Only - These are often first-time vendors invited to set up shop in the AirVenture Innovations Showcase building at Oshkosh. I like spending time there because itís a good place to shoot. The lighting is good, itís relatively cool and itís the launching ground for products that are a little different than the ones around Boeing Plaza. Some make only one appearance at the show, but others have enough momentum to come back for more. That was the case with Opener Aero, which was the attention getter last year with its BlackFly ultralight.

Airventure Innovators

These are often first-time vendors invited to set up shop in the AirVenture Innovations Showcase building at Oshkosh. I like spending time there because it's a good place to shoot. The lighting is good, it's relatively cool and it's the launching ground for products that are a little different than the ones around Boeing Plaza. Some make only one appearance at the show, but others have enough momentum to come back for more. That was the case with Opener Aero, which was the attention getter last year with its BlackFly ultralight.

Letters From Readers: September 2019

I wish you guys ran that digital fuel sensor article (August 2019 Aviation Consumer ) last year when I committed to a JPI big-screen engine monitor for my aging Cessna 206. I was already at the threshold of my budget when I pulled the trigger on the engine monitor job, which of course included fuel quantity to replace the bouncing Cessna OEM gauges. After consultation with the shop manager, I could tell that using the existing senders would be a roll of the dice, so we ended up sending them away for a rebuild.

Texas Colt: Big Airplane Handling

So in a market already choked with more choices than even the most diligent buyer can sort through, how can a late entrant hope to distinguish itself from the crowd? Texas Aircraft appears to be charging into the market with a two-place LSA that aspires to eventually achieve Part 23 certification and a follow-on four-place model, an ambition expressed by at least one other manufacturer-Flight Design-but thus far not achieved. Yes, Tecnam is noted here, but Tecnam began life in the world of certified aircraft and morphed downhill into the ultralight/light sport world.

Alternator Fixes: Repair, Overhaul, New

Subscribers Only - Yes, it's a snoozer of a topic. But that's great news. As aircraft alternators have quietly become more long-lived, they get less and less attention from owners who, rightfully, focus on the components that give them fits by breaking with frustrating regularity or require repetitive inspection or replacement. That's good, especially as some owners now have a second alternator in their airplanes to provide a backup power source as part of going to an all-electric panel and getting rid of a component that is definitely less reliable than an alternator-the vacuum pump.

AirVenture Diary: Certification Promises

Subscribers Only - Priced at $5330, the KI300 has a backup battery for powering the display for up to one hour, has speed and altitude tapes (which can be turned off) and can be installed as the primary (or backup) attitude indicator as long as the airspeed and altimeter indicators are retained. The initial STC includes the Piper PA46 series, but the company said a wide variety of approvals will follow within weeks. I found the instrument to have a decent display, plus it has a stone-simple feature set.

Which IFR Navigator? Garmin GNC 355 Wins

It was around 1996 or thereabouts when Garmin started cranking out the GNC 300XL. This was a TSO C129(A1) IFR approach GPS navigator and as a bonus, it had a utilitarian moving map (of course, any panel map back then was utilitarian) and a built-in VHF comm radio. It had no VHF nav-strictly GPS. The GNC series was a clever idea and almost the perfect solution for backing up a traditional navcomm, or for more basic panels, it worked as the primary rig because of the built-in comm. The cheaper GNC 250XL had a VFR GPS and a simpler install. The GNC series sold like rush-hour coffee at Starbucks.

USB Panel Power: Certified For a Price

Subscribers Only - When I started flying in 1994, there certainly wasn't the need for accessory power in the cabin. These days it's an entirely different story and the number of portable devices I carry grows by the month. Who thought you would have to charge your sunglasses? That's why the market is being bombarded with panel USB charging ports. These are generally FAA-certified devices that mount either on the instrument panel or in interior components, and connect with the aircraft's electrical bus for voltage.

Bose ProFlight Series II: Tweaked and Improved

One otherwise clever feature that's been dinged by some users is the ANR circuit's tap control. Double-tapping a finger on either one of the earbuds puts the set in a talk-through mode, which works when the headset is in the medium or high noise-canceling profile. The idea is to enable better communications outside of the headset. Maybe it's for talking with a flight attendant, gate agent or passengers, but the talk-through feature means you don't have to take the buds out of the ear to talk with someone off the intercom. We've heard of (and experienced) some situations where the tap-through is activated uncommanded during landing and even on the takeoff roll on bumpy runways. Bose said the Series II has been tweaked so the mode is more accurate and more responsive.

Sentry Mini ADS-B:Sub-$300, Compact

If you plan to use ForeFlight for backup flight instruments the Mini probably isn't the device for you because it doesn't have the AHRS sensor to feed the app. It does, however, support the full range of FIS-B weather and data, including animated NEXRAD, METARs, TAFs, AIRMETs/SIGMETs, PIREPs, winds and temps aloft, TFRs, NOTAMs, SUA information, turbulence, lightning, cloud tops and center weather advisories.

Pilatus PC-12:

Subscribers Only - The PC-12 turboprop single turned out to be more versatile than perhaps even Pilatus envisioned. Thatís because it works just as well hauling dirt bikes (weíre talking motorcycles, by the way) as it does corporate executives and charter passengers, thanks to a posh rear cabin thatís configurable in several seating arrangements. Formed in 1939, Pilatus is hardly a newcomer to the aircraft market and the PC-12 has been to market since 1995. That means there is a healthy selection of used PC-12s to choose from.