200-Foot Takeoff Roll? Nonsense

A number of readers contacted us, attaching copies of the ad depicted below showing a Tundra tire-equipped Husky perched in the high country. The readers either asked if the numbers were true or claimed they were what comes out of the south end of a northbound bovine.

We found that unless the airplane is stripped to minimum weight and flown by an expert, the 200-foot takeoff distance number is a figment of someone’s imagination, especially when operating off of an unpaved surface at higher elevations. The AFM for the Husky provides a chart to calculate takeoff distances for the airplane at gross weight in calm wind conditions. For a 2200-pound gross weight A-1B, at sea level on a standard day, the ground roll portion of the takeoff distance for a normal takeoff—flaps up—is 775 feet. For a maximum performance takeoff—30 degrees of flaps—the ground roll drops to 580 feet on a dry, paved surface.

Going to a high elevation airport, we looked at a 5000-foot elevation on a standard day; the ground roll for a maximum performance takeoff is 800 feet. In our opinion, those numbers are impressive. They are consistent with the American Champion Scout, a direct competitor and similarly impressive performer.

Aviat Aircraft’s Steve Anderson said the Husky’s AFM is written with performance figures for the average pilot with standard pilot technique, and the figures have a built-in safety margin for reliability. In preparation of this article, we did numerous takeoffs in a loaded Husky and our experience was consistent with the AFM data. We have no reason to dispute the Husky AFM data.

Still, why Aviat advertised a 200-foot takeoff distance for the Husky, despite its own data, baffles us. In the 1960s, the intense competition between Beech, Piper and Cessna meant each manufacturer fought to have the highest cruise speed numbers in their handbooks. One manufacturer put inflated numbers in its manuals for several years. The result was a widespread belief that all manufacturers lied about performance numbers. Despite the manual numbers being accurate—or even conservative—from the 1970s on, there are still lingering suspicion about them.

We are aware of the internal fights that go on within aircraft manufacturers as marketing wants to inflate performance to sell airplanes and engineering fights to publish accurate information. We don’t want to see inaccurate performance claims by one general aviation manufacturer again taint all of them.

We don’t like advertising that inflates performance. We note that when we contacted Aviat asking about this advertisement, we did not get a response, however, we also haven’t seen it in any print publication since then. If Aviat has pulled the ad, we applaud the decision.