November 11, 2009
Apr. 5 - Making the Sweepstakes Bonanza into a twenty-first century airplane is a long and involved process that consists mainly of installing new or upgraded technology that wasn't available for a Bonanza in 1966. Airframe and engine items like the TKS weeping wing anti-ice system, a Tornado Alley Turbo turbonormalizer system, and a 300-hp Superior Air Parts Millennium IO-550 engine are big pieces of the puzzle. The unique, flowing paint scheme that Craig Barnett of Scheme Designers has created and the Air Mod interior will make the airplane look modern.
There's no doubt that the Sweeps Bonanza has a lot of potential - to fly faster and higher than any previous AOPA sweepstakes airplane. Like any high-performance general aviation airplane, though, there is also a potential for misadventure. To this end, there are two items that are being installed to improve safety.
Chris Szarek is the president of Cygnet Aerospace in Los Osos, California. This small company builds new FAA-PMA approved dual yoke and control wheel systems for Beech singles and twins. The AOPA staff wanted the Cygnet Aerospace yoke and control wheels on the Bonanza for a couple of reasons.
The lucky winner of the airplane may need some instruction. FAR 91.109 (a) states that fully functioning dual controls are required in airplanes during flight instruction. For more information on the requirement for dual controls, see AOPA Online. Beyond the requirement for dual controls during instruction, many potential sweepstakes winners and their crews have always flown with dual controls and may feel a little ill-equipped when first flying in an airplane with a throw-over yoke. The dual yoke also allows the right seat passenger to immediately take control of the airplane during mundane tasks such as chart reading sessions, or during more critical situations such as pilot incapacitation.
The Cygnet yoke is an extremely well-made (it's machined out of single piece of metal) and an attractive addition to the cockpit. One clever design feature allows the yoke to be installed so that the dogleg, or Vee, in the middle of the assembly either cants the yoke up or down (this feature is not available on twins; twin yokes are installed "Vee" up). This feature will allow the winner to fine tune the yoke installation to fit his or her needs.
Cygnet also manufactures replacement control wheels that are identical to the new Beech large ram's horn-style wheels. These wheels are available in a white or black powder coat finish that is extremely durable and won't yellow or peel. Control wheel options include a center-mounted digital chronometer and a hand-wrapped black leather grips.
The AOPA staff contacted Steve Petrich, at P2 Incorporated of Mound, Minnesota, because we wanted an STCed P2 system for the Sweeps Bonanza. The P2 system aurally (and visually) warns the pilot when he is approaching the Vne of the airframe and when he is in danger of landing with the landing gear retracted.
The Bonanza, like other high-performance, retractable-gear airplanes, accelerates quickly during certain flight conditions. All certified airframes are built to high strength standards - standards that have been shown to be sufficient in all normal flight conditions. However, when an airplane is allowed to accelerate through its V NE, flight load factors increase beyond the design limits, and the danger of airframe failure increases.
The P2 Audio Advisory System prevents this by sending a verbal warning to the pilot's headphones whenever the airplane is within 5 to 10 kt/mph of airspeed redline. There's also a verbal landing gear warning. An annunciator light located adjacent to the airspeed indicator backs up the audio warning part of the system. Some might point out that our Bonanza already has a landing gear warning system (the gear horn), and they're right. But pilots are still landing gear up. We believe the P2 system is an opportunity to prevent such incidents.
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