November 11, 2009
Feb. 22 - The Sweepstakes Bonanza is flying. Not toward the avionics shop, but in the skies above Ada, Oklahoma. After a long period of hard work by the staff at Tornado Alley Turbo Inc. (TAT), the last checklist item has been signed off, the weight-and-balance data has been updated, and the engine has run. "The engine sounds marvelous...it's got to be one of the smoothest running engines we've ever had on one of our installations," said Tim Roehl, the president of TAT. Roehl was referring to the Certified Millennium engine from Superior Air Parts, built by Western Skyways of Montrose, Colorado.
The next step is to adjust the takeoff and idle fuel flows, set the idle speed, and conduct a series of in-flight checks to make sure that all systems are operating and the Bonanza is ready to be released for service. Unfortunately, this process has been slowed by poor weather, with low ceilings and forecast icing in the clouds.
After the experts at TAT are satisfied, the airplane will be flown to J. A. Air Center at DuPage Airport near Chicago. If the weather cooperates, this 520 nautical mile trip will be made next week. There, the instrument panel will be disassembled and the process of installing the new panel with twenty-first century communication and navigation equipment will begin.
This equipment will feature a Meggitt EFIS system, and the Garmin radio suite, which is anchored by a GNS 530, the large screen version of Garmin's moving map, GPS, nav/com unit. The 530 will be backed up by a GNS 430, which has a slightly smaller screen. If the physical and regulatory hurdles facing the next step of this project can be surmounted, the Sweepstakes Bonanza instrument panel will become a working prototype for future general aviation glass cockpits. If the weather cooperates, this process will begin in late February or early March. The airplane is scheduled to be in J. A. Air Center's hands for at least two months.
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