10 aircraft milestones from 2012
A “flying car” flew, a storied aircraft went diesel, and manufacturers in Austria and Brazil celebrated first flights of new airplanes: A number of milestones distinguished 2012 for general aviation as manufacturers strove to bring new products to market. Take a look back at some of the aircraft-related news from the year.
- Cessna unveils turbodiesel 182: Cessna rolled out a 230-horsepower turbodiesel version of its Skylane at EAA AirVenture. Officials said the jet-fuel-burning 182 will use 11 gph at a max cruise speed of 155 knots. The $515,000 aircraft, later dubbed the Turbo Skylane JT-A, will replace the avgas-burning Turbo Skylane in 2013.
- Gulfstream certifies G650, G280: Gulfstream’s ultra-large-cabin, ultra-long-range G650 and Mach 0.80 G280 received their type certificates in 2012. The G650 has a 6,000-nautical-mile range at Mach 0.90, according to the company, and a maximum cruise speed of 0.925. The G280 started out as the Astra Galaxy, became the Gulfstream G200, and a modified version was later dubbed the G250 before it became the G280.
- Flights of the ‘flying car’: Massachusetts-based startup Terrafugia completed Phase 1 testing of its Transition “street-legal airplane,” which it plans to offer as a light sport aircraft. The testing represented the first time the production prototype flew outside of the airport environment.
- First flight of DA52: Diamond Aircraft took its diesel twin-engine DA52 out for its maiden flight in the spring. Powered by two 180-horsepower Austro diesel-cycle engines, the twin cruised at 190 KTAS, according to the company.
- First flight of fly-by-wire Legacy 500: Embraer Executive Jets put its full fly-by-wire flight control system to use Nov. 27 with the first flight of the Legacy 500 business jet. The Legacy 500 is the first midsize business jet with a full fly-by-wire system, and will be followed by the Legacy 450, which Embraer calls a “mid-light” jet.
- Piper celebrates 75 years: Venerable manufacturer Piper Aircraft celebrated its seventy-fifth anniversary in 2012. The first J-3 Cub was built in Piper’s Lock Haven, Pa., factory in 1937.
- Tecnam rolls out new models: Among the new light sport aircraft announced in 2012 were three from Italian manufacturer Tecnam. The company introduced a floatplane, taildragger, and bare-bones budget model, all variants of the P92 line.
- Hawker Beechcraft ups and downs: Hawker Beechcraft announced plans to shed the Hawker name and sell or close its jet aircraft lines as part of a plan to emerge from Chapter 11 bankruptcy after a potential deal with a Chinese buyer fell through. But it wasn’t all bad news for the Wichita manufacturer: The company showed media an image of a single-engine turboprop in development, and announced to expand its propeller-driven product line.
- Cessna, Gulfstream vie for title of fastest bizjet: Business jets inched closer to the speed of sound in 2012, with two manufacturers pushing their aircraft to Mach 0.925 and beyond. With a top speed of Mach 0.925, the newly certified Gulfstream G650 is the fastest certified business jet; but the Cessna Citation Ten increased its maximum speed to Mach 0.935 on the road to certification.
- Shot in the arm for Vision jet: Cirrus Aircraft renewed its focus on the Vision SF50 single-engine jet when the company’s new owner, China Aviation Industry General Aviation Company Ltd. (CAIGA), put $200 million into the program.
What will 2013 hold for general aviation manufacturers? Check back on the AOPA website for news on flight tests, new models, and more.
December 17, 2012