Friday, 22 October 2010

Remember that humble pie?

With the taste of humble pie still lingering, I was amused and pleased to see an interview that AOPA conducted with Cessna CEO Jack Pelton at NBAA. A week ago I wrote that Cessna was going to launch its single-engine turboprop at NBAA, and when they launched the Citation Ten instead I had to eat humble pie. To be honest, I was starting to wonder if all the rumours over all the years referred to a project that had been quietly retired (remember Cessna's New Generation single engine piston?).

Jack Pelton however confirmed the project and even gave a few details. The aeroplane is based on the Mustang and has a target price of between $1m and $2.2. Jack Pelton suggested that performance would be in the 300kt area with impressive altitude ability.

If those numbers are met the new aeroplane will prove to be tough competition for both the Meridian and the TBM, but numbers - and particularly prices - are difficult to predict, and I can't really see how anyone could sell a certified, pressurised, single-engine turboprop for anything like $1m, unless Cessna do something interesting with their choice of engine, something Pelton hinted at. The announcement is going to make life interesting for Meridian and TBM sales people, even in the short term.

Watch this space, now the cat is officially out of the bag, I'm sure we'll be getting some more information.

Thursday, 21 October 2010

Stunning weather, stunning city

There's a Britain From the Air photographic exhibition running in Bath at the moment. The pictures are large and distributed throughout the streets, and certainly enhance the lunchtime stroll.

The weather was stunning yesterday, so with the route taking me over Bath I took a few pictures. Here you can see the Circus with Brock Street running vertically away to the Royal Crescent. During Bath's Music Festival there are evening concerts under the tree in the middle of the Circus and lit candles in all of the windows.

It's easy to forget how nice Bath is when you work there every day, but a quick flight soon reminds you just how special it is.

Wednesday, 20 October 2010

Electric aircraft making progress?

NBAA has seen its fair share of announcements this week: Cessna launched the Citation Ten, Beech two new aeroplanes, NetJets orders for a huge number of Phenom 300s and Garmin a new avionics suite aimed at high-level business aviation.

That's a lot of good news, but there was another update that could have easily been missed by the men in suits. Cessna and Bye aviation told everyone that they were making progress on their proof-of-concept electric C172. It looks like first flight may well be in April next year (Sun 'n Fun anyone?).

Right now, the electric options are a bit limited, both in terms of choice and performance. Chinese company Yuneec is currently heading the field with a two-seat prototype and a self-launching motor glider. The company also has a range of engines available to power powered parachutes. Lange Aviation in Germany has the Antares motor glider, powered by the world's only EASA certified electric motor, but it would be fair to say that neither Yuneec nor Lange have made the mass market breakthrough.

Based on my recent performance, I should probably avoid predictions, but there's no doubt that the car industry is spending huge sums on electrical propulsion and battery technology. If aviation can somehow take advantage of that, it could provide a bright new future...

Tuesday, 19 October 2010


Flying west was an interesting experience earlier last week. Initially, the visibility into sun was about zero. Seriously, the view ahead was the same as being in solid IMC. The ground was still visible, but I wouldn't have fancied navigating by vertical reference (thanks Mr Garmin). Climbing made things a lot better, and by the time I got to 3,000' the scene was stunning.

I obviously wasn't the only person to notice this, and Simon Keeling who runs The Weather School offered this explanation on the FLYER forums.

Reason for the inversion layer is that in anticylonic conditions the air is sinking slowly. As this happens, the air is warmed adiabatically (it becomes dry and so warms at 3C/1000ft as it sinks. At the surface the air is colder, in this case due to the northeast flow moving in off a warmer North Sea. So, the cold, dense air sits at the surface, whilst the warm, dry and less dense air above quite happily sits atop. Hence the reason that temperatures rise with height in the lowest layers.
You might then ask why the cloud forms in the inversion layer? Well, for any given temperature the air can only hold X amount of water as an invisible vapour. Warm air can hold more water vapour than cold. So, on the boundary where these two layer of air meet condensation takes places as the one cannot hold the water as a vapour and hence condensation must take place. We see this as stratus or stratocumulus cloud. As air cannot rise due to the sinking motion described above, it stagnates below the inversion and visibility is reduced. Hope that helps, tried to explain it as best I can.

Monday, 18 October 2010

Humble Pie

Sometimes you just have to hold your hand up and admit to being 100% wrong.

As can be seen here I was pretty sure that Cessna would be announcing their entry into a new market today, but as can be seen here, they announced a new Citation - the Citation Ten.

No excuses from me - I read the tea leaves, took soundings, studied faces and read between lines, all to no avail. All to be wrong.

Now, where did I put that humble pie?


I flew into Redhill last week. It was my first visit (by air) and I sort of expected it to be a bit of an issue. Redhill is one of those places that has a reputation. For some it is the fact that it sits in Gatwick's airspace, while for others it's the lack of a welcoming reputation - either way it isn't at the top of most people's 'must visit' list.

I called for PPR before setting off and whoever I spoke to couldn't have been more helpful or indeed friendlier. ATC (Redhill has a tower controller, not a FISO or A/G) was also friendly and professional and the fire crew made the handing over of the £20 landing fee as pleasant as possible. I only had time for a quick cup of tea, but the cafe looked like a decent place to enjoy a bacon sandwich.

It's not a destination in itself (let's be honest, few airfields are) but if you need to be somewhere in that part of the world, Redhill, on the evidence of one visit, fits the bill.

Sunday, 17 October 2010

Mooney Airplane Company is no more....

Well, when I say it is no more, what I really mean is that it has no assets. It seems that all asets have been transferred from the Mooney Airplane Company to the Mooney Aviation Company. The new company will do everything the old one did.

I don't know exactly why this has been done, but I could probably guess…

Here's the full text of the press release…

October 15, 2010, Kerrville, Texas— As Mooney positions itself for the future, the assets of Mooney Airplane Company, Inc. have been transferred to Mooney Aviation Company, Inc. Mooney Aviation Company wants to advise customers that it is currently providing service on all aircraft supported by Mooney Airplane Company, including technical support, service parts and the factory service center based in Kerrville, Texas.