Thursday, 22 April 2010

Making a statement

This is Cessna's demo Corvalis for 2010. They took it to Sun 'n Fun and I guess that they'll be taking it to Oshkosh too. It's a demo aeroplane and its purporse is to attract attention.

I can't remember ever seeing a paint scheme like it, and I don't know whether to laugh, cry or just put red-tinted sunglasses on in order to make everything monochrome.

Good luck.

The beginning of the end of avgas

The EPA in the USA has issued an ANPRM concerning the lead in avgas. For now there's no deadline for the elimination, but there's no doubt that it's on the way out, and if it's elmininated from the US, by far the largest market, I have no doubt that it will disappear from the rest of the world too.

The EPA has recognised that it will need to work together with the FAA to overcome the significant logistical and technical challenge and already the pilot and industry organisations have joined in agreeing to work together on devloping an alternative.

Wednesday, 21 April 2010

FAA help VLJ builders

The FAA has issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking relating to the certification of light jets. If the proposal goes through, new turbine aircraft weighing less than 6,000lb will have to undertake a series of 'function and reliability' testing. That translates into putting real airframes and real engines through real flights exploring the envelope, weather and flight profiles that are expected when the aircrfat gets into customer's hands. The FAA says that the NPRM comes from lessons learned during Eclipse certification - issues that have since come to light with the EA500 would have apparently been caught by the new requirements.

It would mean extra tests, more time, more money and probably more weight (aircraft don't usually get lighter and cheaper as a result of certification), so why would this help the likes of Cirrus, Piper etc? Simply because the programmes can be slowed even further (a good thing in these cash-straped economic times) and the blame can be laid at the feet of the FAA. A bit cynical perhaps, but these projects were started in better times and no aircraft manufacturer has loads of cash to spend on speedy certification and production.

Tuesday, 20 April 2010

It's the doughnuts

Yesterday was a good flying day. The weather was fantastic. the aeroplane performed well, but most of all - I took some non-pilots flying. One of them was a very nervous flyer who had never been in a GA aeroplane.

I find that kind of thing hugely rewarding and try hard to make the experience as enjoyable as I can. On this occasion, it was the turbulence that was causing the anxiety. I talked though the basics of thermal formation, explaining that the rising bubble of air might look a little like a doughnut if we could see it. My (nervous but relaxing) passenger did a really good job of flying us around, only tensing a little on the controls whenever we passed through a 'doughnut', she also did a really good job of spotting the multiple gliders. I find that actively involving previously nervous people in the flight by allowing them to take the controls and to help with lookout really helps.

When we landed a couple of people asked her how she had got on. I'm not sure what they thought when she replied that it was great, as long as we avoided the doughnuts.

Wing walking

I popped into Rendcomb this morning for the launch of the Breitling wing-walking team. This is the pair of Stearmans run by Vic Norman's AeroSuperbatics. Years ago they were the Crunchies, then the Utterly Butterly girls, then Guinot and now Breitling. You haver to give it to Vic Norman, not only does he put on an impressive display, but he knows how to sign up a major sponsor, something that must be harder than a low-level formation display these days.

I'd never been to Rendcomb before, so I was happy when they said that I could fly in for the event. It's a brilliant set-up, with cars, aeroplanes, motorbikes and lots and lots of attention to detail. Sadly (for us) it is also a pretty private place and not somewhere available for general use.

The Stearman two ship put on a bloody good show, let's hope that they have a good season and that it works well for everyone involved, including Breitling.

Skycatcher facts

So from everything you've read, what do you know about the Skycatcher. Until recently, I knew that they'd taken orders for over 1,000, that deliveries had started, and that they were being built in China.

Then Cessna wrote to position holders advising them of delays of up to six months. There were rumours of longer delays and questions over the delivery numbers. I asked Cessna and this is what I've been told…

1. Cessna has so far delivered one Skycatcher (this has been delivered to Rose Pelton, wife of Cessna CEO Jack Pelton)
2. There are four more due to be delivered in May, and another four on the way.
3. Two more are being loaded this week (I assume this means into shipping containers in China).
4. Shenyang, Cessna's Chinese partner, has announced plans to build a dedicated Skycatcher factory, this should be up and running next year.

I must admit, I'd kind of assumed that, like Diamond, Cessna had already built a factory in a joint venture in China. I'd also assumed that the factory in China would be churning out Skycatchers at a far higher rate, notwithstanding the modifications being made following the testing spins.

It looks like it will be a while before Cessna delivers any to the UK, which will at least give EASA an opportunity to sort out the CS-LSA regulations.

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