Pilot Briefing

September 1, 1998

Known ice for Encore/252

Mooney to introduce Eagle and more

After recently announcing the termination of the short-fuselage Mooney Encore and Allegro models (see " Pilot Briefing," August Pilot), Mooney Aircraft says that it will introduce the Eagle, a new entry-level airplane that utilizes the longer fuselage common to the Bravo (formerly TLS) and Ovation models. Most of the gain from using the longer fuselage will come in the form of a roomier rear cabin.

According to a Mooney spokeswoman, the Eagle will probably be powered by a 235-horsepower Continental IO-550 derated from the engine's typical 300 hp. Derating will probably be achieved by a reduction in the propeller redline. Mooney's Ovation already uses a derated IO-550 that produces 280 hp at 2,500 rpm. Projected cruise speed for the Eagle is 173 knots.

FAA officials have told Mooney engineers that they will be able to do most of the certification under old CAR 3 requirements. That means that certification costs will be lower and the threat of delays in the development of the new Eagle have been removed. "Engineers said that they got 95 percent of what they wanted, and the rest will be taken care of with paperwork and negotiation," a Mooney spokeswoman said. Cost-cutting will also come through the use of lower-priced avionics packages rather than the Bendix/King packages typically used in Mooneys. The price of the Eagle is expected to be around $300,000.

Mooney is also developing a four-place pressurized airplane aimed at carrying four adults with full fuel. A new fuselage for the pressurized airplane will probably be used, as the current steel-tube Mooney fuselage is not easily adapted to pressurization.

In other Mooney news, new Encores can now be ordered with the TKS weeping-wing deice system, despite the fact that the company intends to discontinue the Encore sometime next year. The known-ice-approved TKS system consists of laser-drilled titanium panels that seep a glycol mixture onto the leading edges of the airframe; the propeller and windshield are also protected. TKS is available for an additional $47,950. It can also be retrofitted to older M20Ks (Encore and 252). Production tooling will remain with Mooney in case there is a return of the short-body models.

GPS's day of reckoning?

Will your GPS receiver work on August 23, 1999? That question is being asked by many GPS owners familiar with the so-called "rollover" of the GPS week number.

A little background: When the GPS system was activated on January 6, 1980, it began counting weeks until midnight on August 22, 1999, when the week rolls from 1,023 to zero. Will all GPS units know to account for the previous 1,024 weeks? We asked the manufacturers to let us know. So far, II Morrow, Northstar, Trimble, and Garmin have responded positively. Most units will be unaffected by the rollover, but some - especially VFR units built prior to 1994 - may be somewhat affected.

For example, Garmin said that some older GPS 90 handhelds may take slightly longer to acquire satellites on the first power-up after the event. Subsequent start-ups of the 90 should then be normal. Magellan, which has some of the oldest units in the business, should know by December which units are affected. Trimble has tested most of its units.

Similarly, most manufacturers have said that their units will be unfazed by the Y2K (year 2000) bug that is causing a popular stir throughout the world. Contact the manufacturer for the latest information.

Data Transmission Network Corp. (DTN) has purchased Kavouras, Inc., for $22.65 million in cash. DTN is the weather information provider for AOPA's Web site (www.aopa.org). Kavouras has approximately 600 weather customers in aviation, television broadcasting, government, and other industries. Kavouras provides hardware and software for weather services and earned $17.5 million in revenues in 1997. The firm will operate from its Minneapolis headquarters under the name DTN Kavouras.

Dassault Aviation has introduced the Falcon 900C, which combines the performance, range, and cabin features of the Falcon 900B with the avionics of the Falcon 900EX. According to Falcon, the three-engine jet can carry five passengers across 4,000 nm with NBAA IFR fuel reserves.

AASI Aircraft's new 200,000-square-foot factory at Long Beach Airport, California, will be ready for occupancy this fall. Production of the $1.4 million turboprop Jetcruzer 500 will begin immediately to work off a backlog of 127 orders, the company said. Designworks/USA, a BMW subsidiary, will design the aircraft's interior.

Western Aircraft of Boise, Idaho, has been named the exclusive distributor and service center for the Pilatus PC-7 turboprop. The PC-7 is in use as a primary trainer in several air forces around the world. For information, telephone 208/338-1800 or visit the Web site ( www.westair.com).

Aircraft shipments remain strong

Shipments of general aviation aircraft were up nearly 62 percent in the second quarter compared to the same period in 1997, according to statistics released by the General Aviation Manufacturers Association. Billings were up more than 21 percent, to $2.4 billion.

In the piston arena, 672 aircraft were delivered by GAMA-member manufacturers, a 92-percent increase over 1997's figures. Big sellers continued to be Cessna's 172 and 182, which accounted for nearly half of all second quarter piston-airplane shipments. Other big sellers were the New Piper's Archer III and Malibu Mirage, as well as Raytheon's Beech A36 Bonanza.

GAMA President Ed Bolen said of the performance, "We have already delivered more piston aircraft in the first six months of this year than we delivered in all of 1996." Jet and turboprop markets were also up by 21.8 and 12.1 percent, respectively.

Max Karant: My Flights and Fights, by Charles Spence, will be available in October from publisher McGraw-Hill. Karant, the founding editor of AOPA Pilot, led an exciting life in general aviation and it's all recounted here. Spence, himself a former officer of AOPA, does a fine job of weaving Karant's many flying experiences into a riveting matrix that also includes Karant's legendary encounters with bureaucratic ineptitude. The softcover book is comprised of 134 pages, and is slated to sell for $29.95 at bookstores and pilot supply shops. - Thomas A. Horne

Gulfstream Aerospace has purchased K-C Aviation from Kimberly-Clark Corporation for $250 million in cash. K-C Aviation is a completion and maintenance center for corporate aircraft and has annual revenues of $200 million. "We have ramped up production to 64 planes for 1999 to meet growing customer demand for both Gulfstream IVs and Gulfstream Vs, and now we are making a major investment in increased completion and service capacity," said Gulfstream Chairman Theodore J. Forstmann. "Gulfstream will now have 18 additional completion slots in 1999, which will help us work through [the] existing backlog faster - and we will also be able to deliver aircraft sooner to people placing new orders today," he said.

Boeing's flight-training incentives creating new pilots

A cash incentive program for employees who meet flight training goals has created 119 new private pilots so far at The Boeing Company. Another 70 students have completed their first solo flight. The program pays $500 for the first solo flight, and $1,000 when the private pilot certificate has been obtained.

Ron Woodard, AOPA 1355439, president of the Boeing Commercial Airplane Group and founder of Boeing's learn-to-fly program, received his private pilot certificate earlier this year. The program has now spread throughout the company. Woodard told AOPA Pilot that Boeing has received a payback from the effort.

"It helps you to understand the product and what our customers care about. Just going to ground school teaches you so many things," Woodard said.

Woodard has used his new certificate to visit his brother in Portland, Oregon, and to take trips to the San Juan Islands northwest of Seattle. He owns a Cessna 185 and split his training time between that aircraft and the association's Cessna 172.

Some of Boeing's top test pilots are engineers who learned to fly at the Boeing Employees Flying Association, according to operations manager and check pilot Wes McKechnie. (McKechnie was Woodard's instructor.) Astronaut Janet Lynn Kavandi soloed there, and astronaut wannabes have taken training to improve their chances of being selected for NASA's astronaut training program. The association operates 18 aircraft, including a floatplane and an aerobatic aircraft.

The FAA has awarded Comsat Mobile Communications a five-year, $57 million contract to provide satellite and ground communications services for the FAA's GPS Wide Area Augmentation System (WAAS). WAAS will enhance GPS signals to a performance level that will allow for precision approaches.

The "/R" aircraft equipment suffix on the FAA flight plan form no longer means RNAV. Instead, it means Required Navigation Performance, which indicates that the aircraft's avionics are certified to a level of accuracy that allows it to operate in airspace with reduced separation standards. The new designator for VOR RNAV capability with a Mode C transponder is /I. Pilots should note that both /R and /I indicate an ability to conduct "point-to-point" navigation. These changes align the United States with ICAO equipment suffixes for these two designators.

VisionAire Corporation, which plans to build the Vantage business jet, has broken ground in Ames, Iowa, for its production facility. The 116,000-square-foot complex consists of a 101,000-square-foot assembly building and a 15,000-square-foot flight-test building. The company plans to produce 115 aircraft per year on the 13-acre site at Ames Municipal Airport. Starting in September, two conformal flight-test aircraft will be built in the facility.

The Lycoming 310-horsepower TIO-540 and 300-hp IO-540 engines have been certificated for use on the new Cessna T-206 Turbo Stationair and 206 Stationair aircraft. Production engines have been delivered to the Cessna plant in Independence, Kansas.

Squawk Sheet

The FAA has proposed an airworthiness directive (98-CE-20) that would require owners of most Mooney models M20B through M20R to repetitively inspect the aileron control link welded area for cracks. If cracks are found, replacement with an improved part is required.

Cessna models 150 through 337 are subject to a proposed AD (97-CE-114) that would require measuring the visible length of the standpipe in the top assembly of the fuel strainer assembly for correct length. Any standpipe of incorrect length must be replaced.

World War II fighter ace and test pilot Gen. Marion Carl, 82, was shot and killed during a robbery at his home in Roseburg, Oregon. He was one of the U.S. Marine Corps' highest-scoring aces in World War II and flew Grumman F4F and Chance Vought F4U fighters in the Pacific. He set a speed record of 650 mph in a Douglas D-558 Skystreak in August 1947, but the record was broken later by Chuck Yeager's conquest of the sound barrier.

Adventurer Steve Fossett at press time had begun his fourth attempt to circumnavigate the earth by balloon, launching from Mendoza, Argentina. On January 5, Fossett ended his last attempt to make aviation history when he landed in a wheat field near Krasnodar in southern Russia. That journey ended after 5,802 miles, but an attempt in 1997 went 10,361 miles, ending in India. Follow the progress of his Solo Spirit on the Web ( http://solospirit.wustl.edu).

The FAA has appointed Herman A. Rediess as director of the agency's Office of Aviation Research. Rediess has more than 30 years of aeronautical and technical research experience. For the past year and a half, he has served as the chief scientist for test and evaluation at the FAA's William J. Hughes Technical Center.

Gen. Ron Fogleman, who retired from the U.S. Air Force as the fifteenth chief of staff, has been named vice chairman of the board of directors of AVAQ Mooney. Mooney Aircraft Chairman Paul S. Dopp formed the holding company when Mooney was purchased.

Twenty aircraft are expected to enter Sporty's Formula One National Aerobatic Championship on October 3 at Midlothian-Waxahachie Airport, Texas.

The first production Raytheon T-6A Texan II primary training aircraft for the U.S. Air Force and the Navy flew for the first time on July 15. The Air Force will begin using the 230-kt aircraft in April 1999 at Randolph Air Force Base in Texas, while the Navy will fly it beginning in 2002 at Whiting Naval Air Station in Florida. The 1,100-shaft-horsepower tandem-seat turboprop aircraft reached 13,000 feet and performed flight tests and aerobatics on its first flight. The airplane, powered by a Pratt & Whitney PT6 engine, lifts off at 85 kts and approaches for landing at 100 kts.

AOPA members in the news

Stephen Ptacek, AOPA 859978, of Longmont, Colorado, won a restored Piper J-3 Cub from the United States Aerobatic Foundation.

Barry Creighton, AOPA 1009436, of Paradise, California, has launched Sierra Pilot, an aviation newspaper for pilots in the Northern California, Nevada, and southern Oregon areas.

Mike Wankum, AOPA 879962, of Scituate, Massachusetts, was awarded his third Emmy as New England's top weather forecaster by the New England Chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. Wankum is the chief meteorologist for WLVI-TV in Boston.

Kurt Stofko, AOPA 1138750, of Barnegat, New Jersey, was featured in the Asbury Park Press for his creation of an Aviation Explorer post in Ocean County, New Jersey. Aviation Exploring introduces teenagers to several aspects of aviation.

Steven M. Sliwa, AOPA 757511, is resigning as president of Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in December to pursue other business interests. He led a $100 million capital expansion program during his seven years as president of the university.

John Dearden, AOPA 1198159, has a license from the Luscombe Foundation in Phoenix to produce the two-passenger Luscombe 8F Silvaire, to be called the Luscombe Renaissance. The aircraft's 90-horsepower engine will be replaced with a Lycoming O-320 rated at 150 hp, increasing the airspeed to a claimed 120 kts. He hopes to start production in a year. For information, write to Renaissance Aircraft LLC, 1235 Piney Hill Road, Monkton, Maryland 21111; telephone 410/357-5815.

Christopher J. Abbe, AOPA 1179397, has completed a pocket-sized guide to acronyms, Pilot's Pocket Decoder, to keep you abreast of the latest terminology. It is published by McGraw-Hill and available from bookstores and pilot supply shops for $11.95.

Nina Anderson, AOPA 1359483, of East Canaan, Connecticut, has written The Backseat Flyer. It offers tips to airline travelers and health tips that apply to all travelers. It is available in bookstores for $9.95 and by calling 800/903-3837.

Mark Pheifler, AOPA 1073699, has left the U.S. Air Force to work at his airshow business full time. He flies an Edge 540 aerobatic aircraft.

Karen M. Kahn, AOPA 381374, a captain for Continental Airlines, has issued a second printing of her book Flight Guide for Success: Tips & Tactics for the Aspiring Airline Pilot. She is also available for consulting. To order, send $19.95 plus $2.50 for shipping to Aviation Career Counseling, 933 Cheltenham Road, Santa Barbara, California 93105-2208. California residents should add $1.55 for sales tax.

Dr. Ronald D. Craig, AOPA 489825, a family practitioner from Lincoln, Nebraska, has been elected president of the Flying Physicians Association. He is a 26-year AOPA member who has more than 2,000 hours of flight time. Craig has owned a number of Piper airplanes and currently flies a 1976 Lance.

For the love of a DC-3

Kengo Yamamoto and his wife, Asuka, got the idea some years ago to do a "perfect" photographic catalog of all remaining Douglas DC-3s in the world. The crash of one that they later photographed in Australia convinced them to speed up the project.

"We quit our jobs and sold everything we had - including our house, car, TV, VCR, and even dishes," Yamamoto told officials of the Prairie Aviation Museum in Bloomington, Illinois. The museum has a DC-3.

The Yamamotos do not have a publisher yet, but have dedicated their lives to completing the project. When traveling, they live in rental cars or stay with sympathetic hosts. When they are in Japan, a room the couple rents from Kengo's parents serves as a bedroom, studio, and storage area.

The project has been divided into annual worldwide jaunts, searching North America in 1997, South America and Europe this year, and South Africa and Asia in 1999. For updates on the project, contact the Prairie Aviation Museum, Post Office Box 856, Central Illinois Regional Airport, Bloomington, Illinois 61701-0856; telephone 309/663-7632.

Jeppesen, the Denver-based aviation services company, has signed an agreement with Microsoft to supply navigation information for future versions of Microsoft Flight Simulator. Microsoft will have exclusive use of Jeppesen's worldwide NavData database in the entertainment market for the next five years. The data is expected to further enhance the program's realism.