Saturday, 6 June 2009

Need spares?

Need spares for your aeroplane? You'd better hope that you don't have anything new! Some French friends flew their Diamond DA42 to Aero Friedrichshaffen this year. They had a great time, but on April 5th at 10,000' on the way back they had an engine failure and diverted into Troyes. This particular DA42 was equipped with the original Centurion 1.7 engines rather than the later Centurion 2.0 and had recently had new gearboxes fitted.

Another friend, the owner of a Columbia 400, recently took his two-year-old aeroplane to Germany to have a TKS system fited. The original owner had paid for the Evade option (Columbia's electric wing de-ice system), but when Cessna rescued Columbia they dumped the system, honoured the option and offered TKS instead. During this install the German maintenance company verified that the ADs and SBs were all up to date (and that's another story), and found that the rudder needed replacing. The new rudder should have arrived two weeks ago, but as of today it's still 'on the way'. The owner of the Diamond DA42 now has his aeroplane back, but it took the best part of two months to sort out, much of which was spent waiting for parts.

Contrast that with the easy availability of parts for many older aeroplanes and something doesn't seem quite right. Imagine the reaction if you were to pitch up at the garage with your new BMW only to be told that while parts for a Ford Cortina could be had with little difficulty, those for your new car could, and probably would, take ages.

Thursday, 4 June 2009

Top marks for Sandtoft

I flew up to Sandtoft yesterday with Nick Lambert. We were up there for Nick to fly the Savannah VG for the magazine, something we've been meaning to do for a while now.

There was loads going on with fixed-wing, rotary and microlight training taking place and a nice little cafe serving a good range of food at fair prices. The place was really bustling despite it being a Wednesday afternoon, hardly a traditionally busy time of the week for flying schools. Despite the variety of traffic, it was also really good to see the air-ground radio used to an absolute minimum - bucking the trend of many air ground stations to act as if they were FISOs, or even full air traffic. From what I hear, there's a great little social scene at the airfield too. Hurrah!
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Cessna's Corvalis

We got a call in the office today. Marc Cornelius who looks after Cessna's PR in the UK was on the 'phone explaining how the Corvalis production line, until recently in Bend, Oregon, hadn't been closed down as we'd suggested in news. He went on to say that it was in fact on about eighty lorries heading for Cessna's facility in Independence, Kansas. That's good news, but judging by the recent GAMA report on GA shipments, the Corvalis will need to grow some sales volume to justify the cost of relocating, rebuilding and restarting the line.

I look forward to reading Cessna's press release announcing that the first Corvalis has rolled off the new Independence production line.

Wednesday, 3 June 2009

A few Tunisian numbers

I'm busy writing up the trip for the magazine, but in the meatime here are a few numbers. We flew for 26.1 hours and landed at nine different airfields (five in France, four in Tunisia) over twelve days. The total distance covered was 3,036nm. Of the ten legs, the one from Clermont Ferrand to Calvi saw the highest ground speed of 131kt, pretty good considering it involved a climb to FL100. The leg from Djerba to Monastir was the slowest with a ground speed of 99kt. The entire trip averaged 116kt. The cheapest fuel was in Clermont Ferrand at just over €1.50 and the most expensive was the 100LL supplied by the Tunisian military at €3.20. they were the refuellers at every airfield (avgas is otherwise unavailable in Tunisia).

For a few pictures, click here

Tuesday, 2 June 2009

It's mostly about the people

This post is a bit of an experiment. Most of the time one picture per post is all that's needed, but sometimes it is useful to post several. One way of doing this is an embedded slideshow, which if it has worked you should see below.

This is a small collection of pictures from the recent Tunisian trip. The flying was fantastic, but the entire experience was enhanced by the people with whom we shared the experience.