The Dornier Seastar, certified in the United States and Europe in 1991 but never brought to market, is looking for a home. A company official said the search has narrowed to two sites in North America without specifying a country. The company estimates that 40 percent of its sales will come from Canada.
A flying prototype was shown at last year’s annual convention of the National Business Aviation Association, and is appearing this year with a newly refurbished interior at the Canadian Business Aviation Association convention as well as EAA AirVenture in Oshkosh. It will appear again at this year’s NBAA convention.
The $6 million amphibious, composite aircraft can seat 12 or can be configured for a private owner. Two Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6-135A engines power it with a claimed normal cruise speed of 170 KTAS. It can operate in seas up to 2.5 feet in fresh or salt water.
The company is headquartered in Punta Gorda, Florida, and is chaired by Conrado Dornier, who lives in Germany. The engineering core of the company is located there. The firm has some orders now that will be delivered in 2011, with the first aircraft available to the public in 2012. The number of orders has not been released.
This year, celebrate the Fourth of July by taking wing! For 233 years, America has led the world in defining and defending individual freedoms. Our unwavering commitment to these ideals has brought us rewards unimaginable to the generations who passed them on. Among them, the ultimate expression of freedom—flight. Today, more than 600,000 American pilots from all walks of life continue the tradition of inspiration and innovation that only freedom brings. On July 4, 2009, join pilots across the country and plan a flight to celebrate your freedoms. More important, share your flight with a friend or colleague who may not yet wholly understand the value flight has brought our nation.
To learn more about how you can be a part of this holiday event, visit the Web site ( keyword: Freedom).
Some of us have serious reasons for flying, while others just want to look at the view. Members of the Professional Aerial Photographers Association (PAPA) capture that view for the rest of us.
California pilot David Sievert won a recent PAPA print competition when he captured an arrangement of circles written on the desert floor by sand artist Jim Denevan. Sievert used his 1973 Cessna 172M. His Santa Cruz, California, company is called AirPhoto Designs. He works mostly for real estate and construction companies.
Texas pilot Kevin Butts was flying his Cessna Cardinal to another assignment when he spotted bright-red, 400-degree-F sulfur spewing into a drying bed at a sulfur processing plant. It turns yellow when cool. He took some shots and returned to the plant after his aerial photo assignment was completed. He won in the category titled Cessna Award: Aerial Photograph of the Year. He operates Red Wing Aerial Photography out of San Antonio. Butts finds it’s best to have an experienced co-pilot flying the aircraft while he takes photos, especially since he often finds himself operating near the Houston and Dallas airspace.
The goal was to find a neat place in the wilderness to go snowboarding. The plan was for the pilot and passenger to land on skis at the top of a mountain, snowboard down, and have a friend in a second airplane land and bring them back up. It didn’t work that way.
A 1941 Taylorcraft slid off a mountain near Talkeetna, Alaska, on April 17, catching on a rock just below the top and leaving the occupants dangling over a 1,500-foot drop. The two on board were not injured and the aircraft, recovered by a helicopter, sustained little damage but needs a new wing bow. Crusted snow caused the ski plane to slide faster than expected, making the landing a few feet too long.
The Pacific Aviation Museum on historic Ford Island in Hawaii is housed in the same buildings that bore witness to the Japanese attack on December 7, 1941. Hangar 79 is under restoration to its original purpose as a maintenance hangar. It is included on visitor tours.
At each end, the towering door’s blue-glass windows are still riddled with bullet holes left by the Japanese attack. During the war it was filled with fighters, bombers, and patrol aircraft that were based in Pearl Harbor or transiting through to the front lines.
One side of Hangar 79 presented itself as the best spot to establish the restoration area. The large, original tool crib is still there. All the light fixtures and window glass are original and the walls are back to the original paint color. The workshop is rewired and equipped with pneumatic lines and regulators for air-powered tools just as it was in 1941.
After years of shopping Piper Aircraft around the industry, American Capital finally sold it to a new investment company called Imprimis under a fund financed by the government of Brunei. Imprimis is an investment strategy company with offices in Bangkok, Singapore, and Brunei. The fund was established in 2008 to help Brunei Darussalam diversify its economy.
Although the fund is financed by Brunei, Imprimis officials stressed that the country’s government is not involved in managing Piper. Piper remains a United States-based company, and its headquarters will remain in Vero Beach, Florida.
It means an influx of capital investment money that will help the PiperJet reach certification.
American Capital purchased Piper in June 2003 when it was known as American Capital Strategies. It purchased $57 million of the then-New Piper’s senior debt for $34 million, and exchanged $22 million of it for equity. The price Imprimis paid for Piper was not disclosed.
Imprimis plans to help Piper expand in the Asia market.
“Imprimis brings a level of support that will propel Piper from its current status as a company with a strong heritage, track record of innovation, and great potential to one that is growing and pushing the envelope within general aviation,” said Piper President and CEO James K. Bass. “Imprimis’ commitment to grow Piper in both existing and emerging markets comes at a time when we are poised to enter a new era in aviation history.”
Imprimis Managing Partner Stephen W. Berger pointed to Piper’s substantial track record and respect the company enjoys within the GA industry as being among the primary reasons to acquire the company.
“Piper’s capabilities, its excellent dealer family and extensive customer base, coupled with Imprimis’ capability to provide financial support, our dedication to growing the companies we invest in and our contacts within Asia provide fertile ground for Piper to expand its business in the Asian market and throughout the world,” Berger said.
Terrafugia’s proof-of-concept aircraft is retiring after a successful 28-flight career. The next step is an eight-month design phase of a “beta prototype” expected to be ready in late 2010. After that comes a second pre-production flying model, followed by the production vehicle. Deliveries to customers start in 2011.
Sixty customers placed $10,000 deposits for the roadable airplane that currently has a target price of $194,000. The craft presents a unique engineering challenge in that it must meet federal crashworthy standards for cars, adding weight to the vehicle, while meeting the light sport aircraft weight limit of 1,320 pounds. The proof-of-concept vehicle weighs 1,440 pounds, or 120 more than allowed under light sport ASTM rules. It will not fly again and retires to a life of appearances at trade shows.
The proof-of-concept vehicle—using heavier off-the- shelf systems and components—flew the last 21 of its flights in less than a week during the final of four test trials. It flew at 150 to 200 feet and stayed above the runway on all flights. Takeoffs required nearly 2,000 feet, but the final vehicle may improve on that by hundreds of feet, said CEO and Chief Technical Officer Carl Dietrich.
Nearly full elevator deflection was required to lift off and climb in the proof-of-concept aircraft, and that is another issue to be addressed during the current design phase by the 10-person staff at Terrafugia (www. terrafugia.com). The company is located outside of Boston in Woburn, Massachusetts.
One of the reasons for the long takeoff run was too low an angle of incidence for the wing. Substituting larger wheels on the front of the vehicle helped to raise the nose of the aircraft.
The company is already in talks with the FAA about the aircraft, and played host to a 12-person contingent of FAA officials in early June.
Company spokesman Richard Gersh is quick to point out that the vehicle is an airplane, not a car, although it can be driven on the road. “It’s an airplane. Should you damage it, you have damaged your airplane,” he said. It would be cared for by an aircraft mechanic.