Letters: March 2010

SMA Numbers

I have been intrigued by the SMA Jet-A conversion since Ive known about it. It was interesting to actually hear about the result in your article and video in the February 2010 issue. Still, analyzing the $85,000 for conversion versus $25,000 for an overhauled Continental, its a tough sell.

I can do three Continental overhauls for the price of the

conversion. So, even at a lower cost per block hour to operate the SMA diesel, its hard for me to imagine someone recouping the $60,000 additional cost of the conversion during a reasonable period of ownership, assuming you do it at a normal O-470 TBO.

Have you run the numbers to see how many years it would take, assuming one flew the airplane 100 hours per year? Just curious, thanks for the tour.

Dean Siropoulos,

We have run the numbers and we agree. For a private owner flying 100 hours a year, the economics of the conversion are not favorable. The payback extends to more than 10 years. However, if the airplane is flown in a part of the world where avgas isn’t available or if avgas becomes unavailable everywhere, Jet-A engines look attractive at any price.

Flight Planner Feedback

Thank you for including FlightPrep Golden Eagle Plus in the “For-Pay Flight Planners” review article published in the January 2010 issue. We have two comments on our products as described in the article.

The FlightPrep Golden Eagle Plus flight planner utilizes the VFR and IFR planning databases sponsored by CSC DUATS. What this means to pilots is free VFR and IFR database updates for the flight planning process. Many vendors charge an annual fee for this data. We believe when all the costs are considered, our free database updates make for a much lower cost of ownership and encourage safer flight planning when pilots regularly update their data.

Regarding the FlightPrep Online Planner, it is a completely separate product offering. Sometimes people get confused in that we offer both online and software-based planning options. Most pilots who select the Online Flight Planner tell us they want full flight planning features without performing any software installation.

The Online Flight Planner approach also eliminates the need to apply updates or otherwise maintain any program installation. It works from any internet-connected computer with a browser. As you pointed out, it permits pilots to print out a variety of reports from the TripKit option. Airport lookups are accomplished using the Find button on the left-side control frame below the route list.

Thank you for providing such a well-rounded review. We welcome answering questions about any of our products.

John Bouyea,

Credit Where Due

Some time ago, I bought a noise-canceling headset made by DRE Communications. After using it for some years and many flights, I started to get some fraying on the cord, which is modular and not easy to repair.

I was able to track down the maker and they not only offered to send me a replacement cord, but waived the $40 cost if I would pay the shipping, which I gladly accepted.

So this is a story about customer service above and beyond the call and I wanted to share it with you. I will certainly look to DRE Communications for my piloting and portable communications needs in the future.

Jerry Grainger,
San Carlos, California

Prop Prices

I feel compelled to respond to Mr. Nielsons letter in the January 2010 issue written in response to the article in the December issue about composite props. I agree with Mr. Nielson that it was a good article and its nice to see someone reporting on composite propeller technology, but Mr. Nielson also makes some assertions that are misleading.

Regarding pricing, Mr. Nielson quotes Hartzells catalog list price for a replacement Cirrus SR22 propeller. Since this prop is installed standard on the SR22GTS and Turbo, it is included in the price of the airplane. The consumer doesnt purchase this propeller separately, so the price Mr. Nielson quoted is not relevant.

Cirrus chose this propeller on its technical merits, performance and the value it offered to their customers. The numbers speak for themselves, with over 1000 Hartzell advanced composite props now in service on Cirrus aircraft. A more appropriate price comparison would be to look at Vans Aircraft catalog prices. They sell new Hartzell ASC-II advanced composite propellers to their builders-a three-blade for the RV-10 at $15,220 and a two-blade for the two-place RVs at $10,920.

Yes, its a bit higher than MT pricing, but the composite structure (carbon fiber and/or Kevlar) of the Hartzell blade is a technically superior product, providing greater durability and repairability than MTs wood structure blades.

The MT meets the dictionary definition of composite being “of two or more materials,” but wood probably isn’t one of the materials most people would think of when they hear it referred to as a composite.

Furthermore, the MT is not the only prop approved for use on diesel power plants. Hartzell has a composite propeller approved for use on the SMA diesel engine which will soon be added to their STCs. In addition, Hartzell composite propellers consistently win in the Red Bull races, have seen millions of hours of service on regional airliners, such as the Beech 1900, and are used on the high-performance Pilatus PC-21 turboprop trainers.

Finally, in the propeller business, the Hartzell engineering teams ability to mission-optimize the design for any given airplane is second to none, which is why we have more propellers being flown on more aircraft applications than anyone else in the business. But I, too, am biased.

Mike Disbrow,
Senior Vice President
Hartzell Propeller Inc.