April 1, 2000
By Alton K. Marsh & Peter A. Bedell
Eclipse Aviation Corporation has announced the Eclipse 500, a new six-passenger twinjet expected to cruise at 368 knots, with a service ceiling of 41,000 feet and a range of 1,800 nm. Although the Scottsdale, Arizona-based company was formally launched on March 6, development of the airplane has been under way for two years. The Model 500 will be powered by two lightweight Williams International EJ22 engines, each weighing 85 pounds and producing 770 pounds of thrust at sea level.
Not only will Williams certify and produce the Eclipse’s engines, but Eclipse has contracted with the engine manufacturer to design, develop, and certify both the aircraft and its production facility. Dr. Sam Williams, Williams International’s chairman and CEO, sits on the Eclipse Aviation board. Eclipse’s vice president of product development, Dr. Oliver Masefield, was responsible for the development and certification of the Pilatus PC–7, PC–9, and PC–12. Eclipse Chairman Harold A. Poling is a former chairman and CEO of Ford Motor Company, and CEO Vern Raburn has an extensive background in technology and financial management. A 5,000-hour commercial pilot, Raburn is type-rated in 15 aircraft from the B–25 bomber to a Cessna CitationJet. Raburn in 1997 recognized the convergence of digital technology, efficient lightweight engines, high-volume manufacturing, and computerized management systems; he met Williams through mutual business acquaintances, and Eclipse is the result.
The Eclipse 500 will feature an all-glass cockpit and avionics, with operating systems derived from the computer industry. Both interior design and manufacturing techniques will borrow heavily from the automotive industry. Eclipse is working closely with NASA’s Small Aircraft Transportation System (SATS) program, which includes a "highway in the sky" concept intended to revolutionize small-aircraft travel, and Raburn said that Eclipse plans to participate in SATS demonstrations scheduled for 2003 and 2005.
The Eclipse 500 is expected to sell for $775,000 (in 2000 dollars) when deliveries begin in 2003. For more information about the company or the aircraft, visit Eclipse Aviation’s Web site ( www.eclipseaviation.com). — Michael P. Collins
Lancair has delivered the first certified Columbia 300 to Collins Hemingway, co-author with Bill Gates of the 1999 book Business @ the Speed of Thought.
The airplane came loaded with the Premium IFR package, as well as the new Avrotec/Avidyne FlightMonitor moving map display. The FlightMonitor FMP 300 features a large-screen version of Avidyne’s FlightMax Flight-Situation-Display operating software, including moving maps, digitized IFR and VFR charts, and an interface to the BFGoodrich Stormscope WX-500 sensor for lightning detection.
The Premium IFR package consists of a fully integrated UPS Aviation Technologies Apollo line of nav/com, GPS, transponder and audio panel, along with Bendix-King HSI and flight director system, plus the S-Tec System 55 coupled autopilot.
The annual meeting of the members of the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association will be held at 12 p.m. on Saturday, May 6, 2000, at Wings Field, Ambler, Pennsylvania, for the purpose of receiving reports and transacting such other business as may properly come before the meeting, including the election of Trustees. — John S. Yodice, Secretary
The general aviation industry has seen unprecedented growth over the past five years. In fact, for the first time in history, the industry has seen annual increases in billings and shipments for five consecutive years.
At a press conference in Washington, D.C., the General Aviation Manufacturers Association reported that 1999 billings climbed 35.1 percent to $7.9 billion, from $5.9 billion in 1998. Shipments of GA aircraft were up to 2,525, from 2,220 in 1998. All sectors except turboprops saw increases. Piston shipments climbed to 1,747, a 13.9-percent increase from 1,534 in 1998. Turboprop shipments declined slightly, from 271 to 264. Jets, meanwhile, saw a 23.9-percent increase, from 415 to 514.
For more information, see " Buyer’s Buffet." — Thomas B. Haines
The FAA has certified UPS Aviation Technologies’ (UPSAT) MX20 multifunction display (MFD) for general aviation aircraft. When hooked to a GPS, the MX20 displays your aircraft’s position overlaid on a VFR- or IFR-type chart. The VFR chart shows navaids, terrain, and airspace, as well as cartographic data such as lakes and highways. Geographical features can be eliminated in the IFR mode. Terrain elevation can be mapped based on the aircraft’s altitude and route of flight. Internal calculations—based on position, altitude, and groundspeed—allow the MX20 to issue a terrain warning on its six-inch (diagonal) screen. The MX20 is designed to accept future inputs from weather radar, lightning detection, and traffic sensors. An introductory price of $5,995 has been set. For more information, contact UPSAT at 800/525-6726 or 503/391-3411; or visit the Web site ( www.upsat.com).
Pilatus Business Aircraft reports 80 orders in 1999 for the Pilatus PC–12. Deliveries of that model during 1999 were 55, up from 51 in 1998.
Galaxy Aerospace has made the first customer delivery of a Galaxy intercontinental business jet to TTI Inc., a Fort Worth, Texas, distributor of electronic components.
Cessna Aircraft Company says sales revenue reached a record high of $2.2 billion in 1999. The current backlog totals 1,102 aircraft worth $5.3 billion. In 1999, Cessna delivered 224 Citations, 87 Caravans, and 899 single-engine piston models. In other Cessna news, the CitationJet 525 has received reduced vertical separation minimums approval allowing operators to fly North Atlantic and Pacific routes at optimum altitudes. Also, the first production Citation CJ2 has rolled off of the production line. The CJ2 program remains on schedule for certification in May.
WD Aircraft, headquartered in Heubach, Germany, is preparing to deliver a Rotax-powered, two-seat D4 demonstrator to its distributor in Jacksonville, Florida. The aircraft has been flying in Europe for five years.
Delivery of the demonstrator is expected at the end of April, and nearly 100 potential customers are on the list for flights. The first customer deliveries of production aircraft to U.S. customers are planned to begin in July. The FAA is expected to certify the aircraft this summer under a JAR/VLA agreement with Germany.
Harper Aircraft, located at Jacksonville’s Herlong Airport, will distribute the $98,500 aircraft in the United States. That is an introductory price and will last only until the end of the year, when it will increase to $108,000.
The distributor claims a 165-knot cruise speed for the 100-horsepower model. There are 70 D4s flying in 15 countries behind an 80-hp engine with a cruise speed of 153 kt, Harper Aircraft officials said. For information, telephone 904/378-1888, or visit the Web site ( www.d4fascination.com); e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
The FAA has released its final rule establishing reduced vertical separation minimums over the Pacific Ocean. Only properly equipped and certified aircraft may file for altitudes between FL290 and FL410. Requirements include strict altimeter and autopilot performance. Aircraft not meeting the equipment standards are not allowed to use those altitudes. AOPA is watching future developments to see if reduced vertical separation standards are eventually proposed for overland areas. As with ocean areas, only properly equipped aircraft would be allowed to use the most desirable flight levels.
If the FAA adopts an industry proposal, aircraft fractional ownership companies will soon be regulated under a separate subsection of FAR Part 91.
Just how these companies, which have been operating under FAR Part 91, should be regulated has been a controversial subject for months. Charter operators, which operate under the more stringent Part 135, believe that the fractional companies gain an unfair advantage by operating under Part 91. Meanwhile, corporate flight departments, which also operate under Part 91, feel threatened by the fractional ownership concept, fearing that companies will abandon flight departments for shares in aircraft.
To sort out the issues, the FAA appointed representatives from all facets of the industry to a Fractional Ownership Aviation Rulemaking Committee last fall. — TBH
Four air and space pioneers have been chosen for enshrinement in the National Aviation Hall of Fame in Dayton, Ohio, on July 15. They are: the late Thomas B. McGuire, the second leading ace in World War II with 38 victories; Astronaut Buzz Aldrin, veteran of Gemini and Apollo flights and the second man on the moon; the late Laurence C. Craigie, the first military pilot to fly a jet; and Astronaut Eugene A. Cernan, veteran of one Gemini and two Apollo flights and the most recent man on the moon.
Raytheon Travel Air, a fractional aircraft ownership company started by Raytheon Aircraft Company, provided $230 million, or 12 percent, of that company’s sales in 1999. The number of owners holding shares in Hawker 800XPs, Beechjet 400As, and King Air B200s grew from 188 to 436 in 1999. Customers buy one-eighth shares of a single model of aircraft, or they can buy one-sixteenth shares of two models. For example, prices start at $512,500 for an eighth-share of a King Air B200. Additionally, owners pay $6,660 a month and $740 per flight hour. In return, owners receive 100 hours of travel time a year and are guaranteed an eight-hour response time to their travel needs.
Orders for the Cirrus Design Corporation’s SR20 now total 501. The company produces five aircraft per month at its Duluth, Minnesota, factory, but that rate will increase to one a day late this year. By mid-February, 16 aircraft had been completed. Cirrus employs 378 people, including 55 in Grand Forks, North Dakota.
Robinson Helicopter Company has introduced the R44 Raven model that has hydraulic flight controls. The system, used to eliminate cyclic stick vibration and control forces, was first offered in 1999 as an option on new R44s. "Once the option was announced, virtually every order for the R44 requested the new hydraulic system," said Frank Robinson, president. For more information, contact Robinson at 310/539-0508, or visit the Web site ( www.robinsonheli.com).
New drawings are available from Aircraft Spruce & Specialty for the Wittman W-8, the W-10 Tailwind, and the V-Witt scratchbuilt aircraft projects. "The old plans had a number of discrepancies in the dimensions, and the quality of the plans was not consistent," said Aircraft Spruce president Jim Irwin. For information, telephone 877/477-7823 (overseas customers call 909/372-9555), or see the Web site ( www.aircraftspruce.com).
Sino Swearingen is getting closer every day to building its first conforming prototype of the SJ30-2 business jet. The fuselage is nearing completion in San Antonio, with the first flight projected later this year. A factory to handle full production is ready and waiting in Martinsburg, West Virginia. Tooling for the tail has already been transferred from San Antonio to West Virginia. After the first flight, the company will conduct a one-year flight-test program to obtain certification. Three flying airframes and two for ground testing will be used in that program.
Avidyne Corporation has added terrain-warning and satellite datalink capability to its FlightMax 440 and 740 Flight Situation Displays (FSDs).
Datalinked weather information and graphics can be displayed on the FlightMax units through an interface with the Echo Flight satellite datalink transceiver (right). Nexrad radar images, satellite images, storm-cell vectors, METARs, areas of icing and turbulence, and even e-mail can now be depicted in the cockpit on the FSDs. The Echo Flight system uses Orbcomm’s constellation of 35 low-Earth-orbit satellites that operate in the VHF frequency range with send-and-receive capabilities. Because the system uses satellites instead of ground stations, coverage is unlimited, unlike those that require line-of-sight reception of ground-based signals. Price of the Echo Flight transceiver and antenna is $2,500, plus a minimum $25 monthly service fee. Certification is expected late this year.
Avidyne also announced that FlightMax units will soon be capable of displaying terrain information through the use of terrain base maps (left). With this function, pilots will see terrain in graduated colors relating to the aircraft’s altitude and the elevation of the ground. A $5,995 interface with Honeywell’s Enhanced Ground Proximity Warning System (EGPWS) will add terrain warning capability to the units.
For further information, contact Avidyne at 781/402-7400, or visit their Web site ( www.avidyne.com). Contact Echo Flight at 888/948-9657 or 303/413-0903; or visit their Web site ( www.echoflight.com).
Cessna Aircraft has created a Millennium Edition of its single-engine aircraft, featuring leather seats, polished spinner and cowl fasteners, a special paint scheme, and the Honeywell Bendix/King KLN 94 IFR GPS system. Floor mats embossed with a Cessna millennium logo and Rosen sun visors are part of the package. The special configuration is available for Skyhawk SP, Skylane, Stationair, and Turbo Stationair models.
A Head-Up Guidance System made by Rockwell Collins Flight Dynamics has been approved for use on the Challenger 604 business jet. It can be used in all phases of flight and for Category II approach minima (100-foot decision height, 1,200-foot runway visual range).
A federal appeals court has determined that the Web site address Sportys.com is the rightful property of Sporty’s Pilot Shop, ending a years-long court battle. "We’ve been fighting for our domain name for four years," said Sporty’s founder and Chairman Hal Shevers. "It’s great to have our name back." Sporty’s won against Omega Engineering, which entered the aviation catalog business five years ago, forming a subsidiary called Pilot’s Depot. The company had registered the domain name sportys.com.
Schweizer Aircraft Corporation has received a $93.7 million contract from the U.S. Navy to produce a tactical unmanned aerial vehicle based on the Schweizer 333 turbine helicopter. It will carry a 200-pound payload on a mission consisting of a vertical takeoff from a ship, flying 110 nautical miles, loitering three hours on station at up to 20,000 feet, and returning home to land vertically.
Ibis Aerospace, located in Kerrville, Texas, has priced its new single-engine Ae270 turboprop at $1.9 million for aircraft delivered through 2002. The equipped price includes IFR avionics, deicing equipment for known ice, and a 10-passenger interior. Ibis Aerospace is a joint-venture company formed in 1997 by Aero Vodochody of the Czech Republic and AIDC of Taiwan to develop, produce, and market the Ae270. For information, call 830/257-8200, or visit the Web site ( www.ibisaerospace.com).
Do-it-yourselfers can now obtain Aeroshell lubricants over the Internet by logging on to www.aeroshell.com.
Piston and turbine engine oil, hydraulic fluid, and grease can now be ordered online, tracked, and delivered to your doorstep through Equilon Enterprises LLC. The Web site also makes available technical information, gifts and accessories, and answers to frequently asked questions.
The Cayman Islands will host its fourteenth annual International Aviation Week from June 14 through 19. The event includes two days of flying and safety seminars, as well as a beachfront airshow followed by aircraft static displays. Pilots find that International Aviation Week is enjoyed best, however, when the trip is made by GA aircraft. For more information on International Aviation Week, call the Cayman Islands Department of Tourism (800/346-3313), or visit the Web site ( www.caymanislands.ky). Daunted by the 330-nm flight from Key West, Florida, south across the middle of Cuba to Grand Cayman? Let the Cayman Caravan, an organized overflight, handle the details for you ( www.cayman-caravan.com). Or, review previous AOPA Pilot articles on the experience; see " Postcards: Island Escape" (April 1998 Pilot) and "Postcards: Cayman Caravan" (March 1994 Pilot). — MPC
Jet-Golf, created by aviation and golf enthusiasts Steve Gibson, AOPA 1072123, and Tim Bennett, will fly groups of four to 12 golfers to resort destinations, chauffeur passengers to the course, and bring them home the same day. The full-service trips include the flight, catering, ground transportation, greens fees, snacks and beverages, and all gratuities; overnight trips include lodging. A Beechjet 400A, Gulfstream II and III, and Raytheon Hawker 800XP are used. For more information, call Jet-Golf at 888/WINGS33 or 616/349-5607; or visit the Web site ( www.jet-golf.com). — MPC
A new FBO, North American Jet, has opened at Palwaukee Airport, north of Chicago. It has a 22,000-square-foot hangar, a 90,000-square-foot ramp, and a 10,000-square-foot terminal building. North American Jet also operates an FBO in Kenosha, Wisconsin. The Palwaukee facility offers 24-hour line service.
Jonathan Frank, AOPA 1026244, of Spring, Texas, has released Age of Classics (below), a limited-edition print that depicts Houston’s Hobby Airport terminal in the heyday of piston airliners. The prints are sold for $75 through Drew Coats (281/367-7732) or can be ordered online at www.1940airterminal.org. A portion of the proceeds will fund the restoration of the terminal, which will be used as a museum.
Chip Erwin, AOPA 1030546, of Staré Misto, Czechoslovakia, won the 1999 Schneider Cup seaplane race held on Lake Garda, Italy. Erwin (pictured at right) was flying a Zenair CH601 Zodiac on 1150 amphibious floats. Erwin is CEO of Czech Aircraft Works.
Arthur Mott, AOPA 709306, of Waxhaw, North Carolina, and John Dawson, AOPA 717365, of Richmond, Virginia, won the speed category of the Great Hawaiian Air Race (GHAR) flying a Cessna 172RG. Willie Tashima, AOPA 945787, and Les Hirahara, both of Honolulu, won the proficiency category of the second annual race in Tashima’s Beech A36. The 2001 GHAR will take place from February 15 through 19. For more information on the GHAR, see " Racing the Trade Winds" (May 1999 Pilot), or visit the Web site ( www.flyhawaii.com/GHAR.html).
Thinking of flying north? John Dale, AOPA 718810, of Nelson, British Columbia, Canada, has launched a Web site dedicated to northern flying. Routes to Alaska and routes through the Canadian Rockies and the Arctic are included with map details, mountain flying tips, survival gear hints, customs advice, and even a listing of the best fuel prices. See www.flynorth.com for details.
After two years in the certification process, Transport Canada issued a type certificate to Air Wilga of Laval, Quebec, Canada, for the installation of 600-horsepower Orenda OE-600 V-8s on de Havilland DHC–3 Otters. FAA certification of the installation is expected soon.
Swapping the Otter’s original Pratt & Whitney R-1340 radial for the turbocharged and liquid-cooled V-8 shaves 300 pounds off the airplane’s empty weight and greatly reduces the amount of aerodynamic drag, thanks to a slim cowling. Claimed advantages include increased speed, fuel economy, and range, as well as reduced operational and maintenance costs.
Air Wilga is currently completing the second Orenda-equipped Otter and hopes to begin sending conversion kits to customers by September. Cost of the kit is $199,000 (U.S. dollars) plus the cost of the engine, which is $110,000. For more information, call Air Wilga at 450/666-9000.
Bell 412s used by the Los Angeles Fire Department have been fitted with an innovative fire-attack system that allows these helicopters to stand ready for firefighting duties as well as medevac and other tasks at any time.
Previous fire-attack systems used by the department required the removal of the system prior to carriage of passengers or other duties. The Simplex Model 304 system allows the fire-attack system to remain attached to the helicopter, effectively allowing the helicopter to respond to any type of emergency in a minimum amount of time.
The Simplex Model 304 is 30 pounds lighter than the department’s old system, and has a more aerodynamic shape that is approved for flight at speeds up to the 412’s 110-knot, tank-full VNE. The Simplex system also has a hover refill system for in-flight refilling of its 375-gallon carbon-fiber hopper. For more information about the Simplex system, call 503/257-3511 or send an e-mail ( email@example.com).
The Pacific Dove , a Douglas DC–3 being refurbished in Louisiana in preparation for a trip to Sydney, Australia, this summer—the first of several trips intended to teach young people about the sacrifices made by military veterans—will get a lift on April 13. That’s when astronaut James D. Halsell Jr. is scheduled to carry an ambassador kit, signed by Louisiana Gov. Mike Foster, aloft with him on the space shuttle Atlantis. The Pacific Dove Foundation presents ambassador kits to donors of $20 or more. For more information, write Pacific Dove Enterprises, 188 Trace Loop, Mandeville, Louisiana 70448, or visit the Web site ( www.pacificdove.com). — MPC
Dassault Falcon Jet sold 72 Falcon business jets in 1999 and has an order backlog of 120 aircraft. The top-selling Falcon is the 2000, due to orders from NetJets fractional programs in the United States, Europe, and the Middle East.
The owner of a 1980 Piper Warrior II reported to AOPA that the aft lower stabilator cable terminal broke upon landing because of corrosion. The incident was reported to the NTSB, which intends to recommend an airworthiness directive. In the meantime, owners of 1979 to 1981 Piper airplanes should pay close attention to the stainless-steel terminal that is swaged onto the cable.
A Special Airworthiness Information Bulletin was issued by the FAA warning owners of certain model Raytheon Beech Bonanzas and Barons of the possibility that during an accident, the fifth- and sixth-seat attachments could separate from the airplane. Raytheon issued a mandatory service bulletin (SB 53-3159) that details the necessary corrective action and has a kit to eliminate the problem. To obtain a copy of the service bulletin, call 800/429-5372.
Aircraft Power and Fuel,
Among the very first lessons a pilot learns is that a control yoke is not a steering wheel. Research underway in Europe could change that.
AOPA President Mark Baker and AOPA Foundation Executive Director Jim Minow are challenging one another to see who can recruit the most Hat in the Ring Society members for the foundation before the end of the year.
Two general aviation airports located two miles apart in a remote section of northeast Oregon are coming alive, thanks to pilots and area residents.
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