Saturday, 15 May 2010

...another show over

The doors closed 15 minutes ago - another show over. Things got off to a slow start, but despite a cup final or two the numbers were slightly up on last year's Dublin event. A good day! Now, all we need is for the ash cloud to stay away so that we can all get home…

Friday, 14 May 2010


Another weekend, another city (Dublin) and another Ryanair flight (too cheap to even think about GA alternatives - three people return for a total of £87 including taxes).

We're in the build-up phase for tomorrow's Professional Flight Training Exhibition. It's the time when floors are marked out, tables carted around, lost packages hunted and organisers fret over detail.

We've had three shows in fairly short succession, Eindhoven, London and now Dublin. 12 hours until the doors open...

Wednesday, 12 May 2010

TCM and SMA get engaged

Teledyne Continental held a press day today - sadly it was in Mobile, Alabama, a bit far from Bath, but the news is spreading fast. TCM has signed a deal with a European diesel engine manufacturer. The engine concerned is a four-cylinder, four-stroke, direct-drive engine. Apparently TCM aren't willing to name the manufacturer, but anyone with enough of a brain to be able to breath without life support can figure out that it is SMA's 230hp engine.

This is very good news indeed. Until someone invents and certifies a low-cost turbine, diesel engines are the way forward, but OEMs and end-users are a conservative bunch, so getting a big GA name behind the brand will work wonders.

My bet is that within a year or so we'll be seeing this engine in several airframes. Cirrus, Maule, Cessna and Piper must all be contenders. My bet is that Cirrus will get there first.

Tuesday, 11 May 2010

A GA day

Today was a GA day. Meetings, visits etc. It involved six legs and a couple of airfields (Kemble and Gloucester). Total flight time only came to 1.3 hours or about £110 worth of fuel to which can be added £68 worth of landing fees.

Three of us ended up having lunch at Kemble's AV8, even after reading a thread on the FLYER forums. I'm happy to say that the service was fairly quick, (there was the occasional smile) and the food (an uncomplicated, non-gastro bacon and egg bap) was fine for what it was.

Although for me the day was all about work, the actual flying times and destinations were similar to many recreational GA days out - which is a bit worrying, a bacon bap, and couple of landings struggle to look like good value for the best part of £200.

Longer life Thielert

Thielert has just announced that the TBR (Time Between Replacement) for the 2.0 135hp engine has been increased to 1,500 hours. This is very good news for owners as the previous maintenance schedule called for a 1,200hr inspection at the factory in Germany, necessitating the removal and shipment of the engine.

I recently had a chance to fly behind Thielert's latest version of its 2.0 litre engine, the 2.0s. This is the 155hp engine that Cessna was going to use in the now suspended C172TD. I only got a single flight snapshot, and the engine performed flawlessly throughout, but history shows us that it sometimes takes a little longer, and some fleet hours, before any problems manifest themselves, although it has to be said that the 2.0 engine is slowly building a good reputation, and that the 1.7 litre engine didn't do too badly in individual owner's hands.

Thielert's biggest challenge is now one of reputation. After a bad start this is slowly rebuilding, but aviation is a conservative market and the company will either need lots of time or a buyer with a respected name.

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Monday, 10 May 2010

1st quarter GAMA numbers

The numbers are out, and although piston shipments are down 7% on the same period last year the rate of decline is reducing - as GAMA (General Aviation Manufacturers Association) say 'DECLINE IN GA SHIPMENTS SLOWS IN FIRST QUARTER' an interestingly positive slant on some depressing numbers.

Cessna sold more Citation Mustangs (21) than they did C172s (13), but in the whole of the first quarter only sold 1 Corvalis TT compared to the 47 SR22s that were sold by Cirrus Aircraft. Piper's Matrix continues to be its single best seller with seven sales, and the PA46 line sold a total of 14, just under half of their entire production. Hawker Beechcraft may have only sold one Bonanza, but four people bought a Baron. Diamond saw a 28% drop in sales, with the DA40 being their biggest faller.

Q1 is traditionally the quietest time of the year for deliveries, so fingers crossed that things start to pick up.

The full report will be available on GAMA's website

A proper TAF

Now this is what I call a proper TAF

TAF EGDL 101618Z 1018/1112 04009KT 9999 BKN045=

ah...normal service is on the way back

TAF EGDL 101919Z 1021/1115 06010KT 9999 SCT030 TEMPO 1111/1115 7000 SHRA=

Sunday, 9 May 2010

GAMA numbers out tomorrow

GAMA will be releasing the sales figures for Q1 tomorrow. If the faces at Friedrichshafen and EBACE are anything to go by they won't be hugely pretty.

On a positive note most manufacturers have now completed their cost-cutting measures, and while literally thousands of General Aviation manufacturing jobs have been lost, the water has stopped rising for now, and those companies left are keeping their heads above water, even if it is lapping at their chins.