October 1, 2013
By Thomas A. Horne
Beechcraft. Perhaps the biggest news was Beechcraft’s announcement that it had orders for 105 King Air 350i turboprop twins—a deal worth $788 million. The company said it was the largest general aviation propeller aircraft order in history. The purchaser is Wheels Up, a membership-based private aviation program. Add in Wheels Up’s option to buy 70 additional airplanes and the maintenance contract for all its new 350i airplanes, and the deal’s value rises to $1.4 billion.
Biofueled Phenom. Purdue University’s Air Transport Institute for Environmental Sustainability (Air TIES) flew its Phenom 100 to Oshkosh in order to show off its use of biofuels. In this case, one of the Phenom’s Pratt & Whitney PW617 engines was powered by a mixture of a camelina-based HEFA (hydroprocessed esters and fatty acid) biofuel and Jet A; the other engine used conventional Jet A fuel. The Air TIES program has been supported for the past four years by the U.S. Air Force and the Air Force Research Lab. Its goal is to reduce carbon emissions, involve student researchers, and is part of Purdue’s association with the Midwest Aviation Sustainable Biofuels Initiative.
Conforming HondaJets. The Honda Aircraft Company showed up with two of its conforming production HondaJets—the third and the fifth of a total of six conforming aircraft. The third aircraft has been flying since November 2011 and is being used for mechanical system testing. The fifth aircraft joined Honda’s test program in May 2013 and is used to test cabin systems, interiors, and options, as well as perform function and reliability tests. It’s also the first HondaJet fitted with a production interior.
G1000 Twin Commander. Eagle Creek Aviation Services brought its latest retrofit aimed at the Twin Commander line of twin turboprops—an upgrade that replaces the airplane’s old analog instruments with a three-screen Garmin G1000 suite that incorporates engine data and new fuel, oil, and hydraulic system transducers. A 350-pound weight savings comes with the panel overhaul, thanks to the elimination of old wiring.
The GAO released its report “Aviation Workforce: Current and Future Availability of Airline Pilots,” and general aviation has a strong interest in its findings.
Red Bull Air Racing has returned for 2014, with Paul Bonhomme, twice a world champion of past years’ competitions, claiming a victory.
AOPA President Mark Baker flew four women and girls on two flights March 4 as part of Women of Aviation Worldwide Week activities designed to introduce more women and girls to aviation.
AOPA thanks our members for their continued support in protecting the freedom to fly.