From the June, 2013 Issue
When Piper morphed the Apache into the Aztec in 1960, it was a precursor of sorts for an idea yet to be invented: the minivan. You could say the same of the Seneca, but whichever analogy appeals, Diamond Aircrafts new DA52 VII goes to the same place. Its meant to be a people or thing hauler capable of high cruise speeds, but with a fuel economy and speed Piper could only dream about. But the minivan comparison goes just so far, for the DA52, when certified sometime next year, will be an expensive ride.
The time will come when youre faced with selecting the shop to do the majority of the maintenance on your airplane. Choosing well can mean the difference between a good ownership experience and a level of frustration that causes you to give up on aviation. In this article, well give you suggestions on making your initial search, then how to narrow it down; a list of attributes of professional shops, guidelines for making your selection as well as shop practices that are red flag alerts to avoid.
The Light Sport world is getting a new air conditioner making use of technology trickled down from the space program. It was developed by an aggressive young company that is already supplying micro-cooling components and systems to NASA, the military and experimental aircraft builders. Air Management Technology, Inc. (AMT) of Englewood, CO, is the creator of FlyCool, a lightweight, all-electric, vapor cycle air conditioning system that is capable of 9500 Btu per hour and moving 350 cubic feet of air per minuteabout the same as in a mid-sized automobile. AMT told us that they expect final approval for installation of FlyCool in the Flight Design CTLS and the Sport Cruiser before this issue reaches readers.
If ever you harbored doubts that the iPad and its progeny would eventually be all things to all pilots, a herd of new ADS-B portable products last spring might erase them. No fewer than three new gadgets hit the market and we suspect more are in the wings. The all things part is that these new devices are equipped with functioning AHRS so the polymath tablet is now not just a navigator, but an EFIS, too. So much for the glitter, but is the EFIS one you can really depend on? Well get to that in a moment. For now, suffice to say in this market, theres a box for every budget and for under a grand, you get impressive navigational performance, FIS-B weather, limited traffic awareness and the EFIS, one version of which even includes synthetic vision.
You can retrofit instruments and avionics in your aircraft panel, so why not custom retrofit your own simulator to match the layout? Thats the concept behind the new Flight Training Cockpit Advanced Panel, which is sold by PilotMall.com. The tabletop simulatorwhich uses Saitek ProFlite electronic instruments, avionics and controlsallows for a custom layout, thanks to a modular and interchangeable design. The simulators instrument panel is made of 14-gauge steel and mimics a real panel, which even includes a glare shield. Weve been selling the Saitek flight training instruments and avionics panels for years, but customers have recently been asking for an easy way to mount the instruments to make the suite look and function like an actual aircraft panel, said PilotMalls Neil Glazer. The Advanced Training Cockpit is appealing to owners who might rearrange the instrument and avionics panel in their own aircraft and want to practice flying the new layout.
We thought switching to Apples iPad mini for cockpit use would be the cure-all for the shortcomings of the bulkier, full-size iPad. As it turned out, it created a new set of problems. While the smaller mini is less obtrusive, the little sucker just wont stay put if you plop it in your lap. On a recent trip, ours slipped under the seat, dropped on the floor and became wedged between the seat and the circuit breaker panel in a Pilatus. We thought it was gone for good.
Considering that a major avionics upgrade could outprice the aircraft, it makes sense to consider repairinginstead of replacingyour existing equipment. While this might seem like a good short-term solution, you might be throwing good money after bad. The repair versus upgrade decision might depend on your mission and whether the unit will be used for primary or backup. Consider three questions: How much does a like-exchange cost? How much serious IFR do you fly? Does the manufacturer still support the equipment? Be careful of using the excuse that you might sell the aircraft soonselling with old radios works in the buyers favor.
Still the only production four-seat or side-by-side, conventional gear airplanes being built in the U.S., Maules have been attracting owners who march to a slightly different beat for over 50 years. In general, the airplanes are easy and forgiving to fly when in the air, yet not so much on the groundthe runway loss of control accident rate is distressingly high. Theyre simple to fix, good at going slow but capable of decent cruise speeds, although the published speeds for many in the line are considered humorously optimistic.