The TBM850 is a remarkable airplane, but for the first year of its life it came with a dated instrument panel. While perfectly capable of every navigation task, it had what amounted to a glorified “six-pack” panel—but with Garmin GPSs and a high-end Honeywell/Bendix-King autopilot. “I flew an 850 on a long cross-country with Nicolas Chabbert, EADS Socata’s vice president of sales and marketing, and it was clear that since other manufacturers were leaping on the all-glass cockpit bandwagon, the TBM850 was being left behind in the panel department,” says Editor at Large Tom Horne. So Horne asked, “When are you going to go wall-to-wall glass, and what system will it be?” Chabbert replied, “Well, what would you like?” “What about the Collins Pro Line 21?” Horne said. “What if it meant paying $500,000 more for the airplane?” came the reply. “No, I don’t think so,” Horne said. “Well, I think you have your answer,” Chabbert said. That answer, the lower-cost and equally high-capability Garmin G1000 avionics suite, is now standard on new TBM850s (see “ Turbine Pilot: 850 Plus 1000,” page 74).
Cirrus Design is marketing the latest version of its SR20 piston single, the G3, with new pilots in mind, but what’s the impression of an experienced pilot flying one for the first time? Senior Editor Paul J. Richfield answers that question in this month’s issue ( “ Cirrus SR20-G3: Reaching Maturity,” page 68). The upshot? “I’m a longtime advocate of drafty, noisy, utilitarian airplanes that hammer the pilot into top performance,” he says. “But the Cirrus focuses your attention another way—with luxury and a flood of electronic flight information. It’s a seductive package.”
In early 2007, 17 maintenance technicians from flying clubs, state colleges, an airframe manufacturer, and a South American Diamond distributor gathered in a modern classroom at the Superior Air Parts facility near Dallas to attend Thielert’s Centurion engine maintenance seminar. After 10 hours of classroom instruction and six hours of hands-on training, they all took a short test. Associate Editor Steven W. Ells was there ( “ Airframe and Powerplant: The New Powerplants,” page 99). “I passed and like the others, now have a certificate authorizing me to maintain and service Thielert’s turbo-diesel 1.7-liter engine. Based on what I learned, I believe that Thielert has moved light airplane engine technology into the twenty-first century. It’s about time.”
“I’ve seen the future of IFR flying—and it looks an awful lot like VFR flying,” says Senior Editor Dave Hirschman after a sneak peak at Garmin’s new Synthetic Vision System (SVS) at the company’s Olathe, Kansas, headquarters ( “ Seeing Eye to Eye,” page 93). Garmin’s SVS software allows pilots to see a three-dimensional, GPS-derived view of the world with sharply defined mountains, lakes, and airports as if they were looking out their windshields on clear days—regardless of the actual cloud conditions. Other airplanes, terrain, and obstacles show up on a bright PFD, and pilots can follow “highway in the sky” boxes all the way to runway thresholds. “There’s no more interpolation or chasing needles,” Hirschman says. “SVS changes everything.”