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.
AOPA Pilot Editor at Large Tom Horne has worked at AOPA since the early 1980s. He began flying in 1975 and has an airline transport pilot and flight instructor certificates. He’s flown everything from ultralights to Gulfstreams and ferried numerous piston airplanes across the Atlantic.
The Flying Physicians Association (FPA) has become the latest group to lend support to third-class medical reform and urge government officials to speed up their review of the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM). The NPRM would expand the number of pilots who could fly without needing to obtain a third-class medical certificate, a standard that has been successfully used by sport pilots for a decade.
California pilot Christopher Braun has created a revamped version of the cleco plier that is said to be lighter and more ergonomic.
There is no shortage of pilots in eastern Washington, but there does seem to be a scarcity of clubs in that part of the country.
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