With the launch of its new Jeppesen Internet Flight Planner (JIFP), the company is offering a convenient upgrade path for users of AOPA's Real-Time Flight Planner (RTFP) who need more advanced features than those offered in the free product jointly developed by AOPA and Jeppesen.
Like RTFP, the new flight planner uses a small application and an Internet connection to deliver always-current navigation data. While the user interface will be familiar to RTFP users, Jeppesen's new flight planner includes a number of more advanced features, including high-altitude airways, overlays of graphical METARs, terrain depictions, and access to real-time special-use airspace information.
In fact, the JIFP offers many of the same features as Jepp's robust FliteStar-IFR flight-planning software. This includes a prebuilt aircraft-model library (and the ability to save multiple aircraft and pilot profiles), constant-power and -altitude aircraft models, weight-and-balance planning tools, multiple routing options and filters, and the ability to upload the flight plan to a GPS.
A subscription to the flight planner is $10.95 a month for the Western Hemisphere; an annual subscription is $115.95. A monthly subscription can be canceled after three months. The planner is currently not available with data for Europe, Africa, or Asia. As an inducement for RTFP users to try the new flight planner, Jeppesen is offering a free one-year AOPA membership or one-year membership extension — a $39 value.
Price: $10.95 a month; $115.95 annually
Contact: www.jeppesen.com for a downloadable tutorial
Power FlowSystems, developers of tuned exhaust systems for piston airplanes, demonstrated at AOPA Expo last November its latest exhaust system for certain 200-horsepower Mooney 20-series aircraft (models M20E, F, and J).
The system, optimized for better performance at altitude (rather than climb power down low), during our test flight posted cruise-speed gains and lower, more consistent cylinder head temperatures (CHTs) than those of a stock aircraft. While developing the system, Power Flow polled Mooney owners, who responded that they would prefer increased speed up at altitudes where the airplane is typically most efficient, as opposed to seeing performance gains at sea level. During the test flight, the Mooney we flew saw an increase of 6 knots in indicated airspeed over the stock system at 7,500 feet.
We took off from Tampa's Peter O. Knight Airport and climbed out through a thin layer to VFR on top southbound clear of Tampa's Class B. During the climb, the 1977 M20J showed good climb performance (hard to distinguish if it was better than stock without a direct comparison using the test aircraft). More important were cool CHTs (in the mid-340s to mid-370s Fahrenheit through the climb from 2,500 to 11,500 feet at 156 to 130 KIAS) and steady oil temperatures.
The airplane had recently benefited from freshly overhauled cylinders, and a port-and-polish treatment, which should have rendered the engine "thirstier," according to Darren Tillman, demo pilot for Power Flow and an airframe and powerplant technician. Still, fuel flows dropped by several tenths of a gallon per hour (averaging 14.3 gph at full throttle and 2,700 rpm at 3,000 feet to 10.7 gph at 11,500) compared to those with the stock exhaust. The drop in fuel consumption is attributed to a more complete mixture burn, also resulting in closer exhaust gas temperatures. While the modification isn't cheap, the promise of slightly lower fuel burns, increased speed, and more consistent engine temps — and the potential for longer engine life — can tip the equation in Power Flow's favor.
The Power Flow system was originally certified on 180-horsepower Mooneys — the 200-horsepower version requires a different diameter and length collector, and the presence of electric cowl flaps necessitated additional modifications to the design. Power Flow has shipped about 50 200-horsepower Mooney kits and estimates that 40 are flying with the tuned exhaust. The system is available with either polished exhaust stacks or ceramic-coated stacks.
Price: $4,590 (polished) or $4,790 (ceramic)
Contact: 877/693-7356; www.powerflowsystems.com
If you're thinking about buying an airplane — and it's a used airplane — one item of concern you will encounter early in your search is the state of the aircraft's logbooks. Aircraft inspections, repair, and maintenance must be recorded in a logbook, just as you record your flight time and certificates, ratings, and sign-offs in a logbook. And since the beginning of aviation as we know it, these aircraft logbooks have traditionally been "paper" logbooks — similar to your pilot logbook.
Aircraftlogs.com takes your airplane's current logbooks (as well as your pilot logbook) and converts them into an electronic document that you can update as necessary. The online program also allows you to set timers and reminders (for required inspections as well as pilot currency). With the program you can automatically populate a Form 8710 — the application you must fill out when it comes time to take a checkride with the FAA. You can document "squawks" (important maintenance items to attend to) and prioritize them. An expense report form also is available for business travel and tax recordkeeping.
Price: $96 annually for a basic pilot account; up to $612 annually for a turbine-powered multiengine-aircraft logbook subscription; billed monthly
Contact: 888/359-5647; www.aircraftlogs.com
The AeroTherm electric engine heater, available from Sporty's Pilot Shop, has ducting to supply 190-degree Fahrenheit air to an engine compartment, providing even heat. The electric unit obviates the need for propane, reducing bulk and weight and the need to refill a tank. Three settings (500, 1,000, and 1,500 watts) and a thermostat help the unit maintain the desired temperature continuously.
According to Sporty's, the unit can preheat an average single-engine airplane's engine compartment in an hour (for starting), with complete warming in three hours with an outside air temperature of zero degrees F. A nylon band suspends the unit from the prop hub, while two ducts provide air. Four sponges are included to help seal engine intakes.
Contact: 800/776-7897 or 513/735-9000; www.sportys.com
The Icarus Instruments SAM (steering assist module) brings roll steering to any autopilot with a heading mode and interface with a panel-mount GPS with an ARINC 429 connection.
Price: $2,295 plus installation
Sky-Tec offers its Plane-Power lightweight alternators for replacement in many GA piston aircraft. The alternators generate higher power at lower rpm settings, and less heat, than conventional alternators.
Price: from $389
Contact: 800/476-7896; www.skytecair.com
An Internet-based flight-tracking program offers free access to information on any flight operating on an instrument flight plan in U.S. airspace. Registered users of FlightAware can look up the 90-day history on any U.S.-registered aircraft — N-number blocking for is available through the Web site.
Garmin's GWX 68 on-board digital weather radar system interfaces with the G1000 avionics suite and the MX20 multifunction display. The GWX 68 will be installed first on the Beechcraft Baron G58, with retrofit applications available in the first quarter of 2006.
Price: $20,995 with 10-inch antenna
Contact: 913/397-8200; www.garmin.com
Engine Components Inc. offers a 90-degree oil filter adapter kit for use with Lycoming 320, 360, 540, and 720 direct-drive engines. An alternative to the straight-line adapter, the 90-degree adapter shifts the filter to a vertical position, giving more clearance and easier maintenance access.
Price: about $215
Contact: 210/820-8101; www.eci2fly.com
eMETAR is a free weather service that sends METAR and TAF weather reports to an e-mail address or cellular phone. Pilots also can sign up for a "wake-up" service that is programmed to call a cell number at a preset time, or to send updated METARs when the report hits selected weather minimums.
Superior Air Parts has broadened its Millennium cylinder line, introducing a series of replacement standard-cast cylinders for Continental 470, 520, and 550 engines. The cylinders will be manufactured by German company Thielert Aircraft Engines and are covered by a 15-month parts and labor warranty.
Contact: 972/829-4609; www.superiorairparts.com
Unless otherwise stated, products listed herein have not been evaluated by AOPA Pilot editors. AOPA assumes no responsibility for products or services listed or for claims or actions by manufacturers or vendors. However, members unable to get satisfaction regarding products listed should advise AOPA. To submit products for evaluation, contact: New Products Editor, AOPA Pilot , 421 Aviation Way, Frederick, Maryland 21701; telephone 301/695-2350. Links to all Web sites referenced in this issue can be found on AOPA Online.