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.
Nextant Aerospace, adding a remanufactured King Air to its remanufactured Hawker 400 offering, says the King Air (Nextant G90XT) will fly early next year.
Greg Pecoraro, AOPA vice president of airports and state advocacy, brought Indiana aviation community members up to date on the association’s initiatives.
Elbit Systems has upgraded infrared systems that see through darkness and weather for nearly visual landings and takeoffs, as well as taxi operations.
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