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AOPA Online Members Only -- AOPA ePilot Custom Content -- Vol. 7, Issue 31AOPA Online Members Only -- AOPA ePilot Custom Content -- Vol. 7, Issue 31

The following stories from the August 5, 2005, edition of AOPA ePilot were provided to AOPA members who expressed an interest in the particular subject areas. Any AOPA member can receive information tailored to their areas of interest by updating their preferences online.

My ePilot - Jet Interest
Former Cessna CEO Charlie Johnson, who joined the Aviation Technology Group (ATG) in late 2004 to guide production of the tandem-seat fighter-like Javelin jet, has been named president and chief operating officer of ATG. Johnson predicted a first flight at Denver's Centennial Airport in late summer as soon as a shimmy problem in the nose gear, revealed by high-speed taxi tests, is corrected. Cruise speeds are expected to be in the 500-knot range. The company said it has 85 deposits with 15 pending for the $2.8 million aircraft (for the executive model) that is heavily aimed at the military trainer market. Eight aircraft have been ordered by the military department of a European country and is worth $44 million (ejection seats increase the price of the executive model).

My ePilot - Experimental Interest
Van's Aircraft of Aurora, Oregon, displayed its first four-place airplane kit, the RV-10, powered by the 260-horsepower Lycoming IO-540, during EAA AirVenture. A second copy of the RV-10 has been completed and is using the 210-hp Continental IO-360. The aircraft displayed carried 60 gallons of fuel, enough for four hours at a cruise speed of 152 knots. A complete quick-build kit costs $44,860 but does not include avionics, engine, or paint. For 30 years Van's has delivered kits for the RV-3, -4, -6, -7, -8, and -9. Nearly 4,000 of them have been built and flown.

My ePilot - Student Interest, Training Tips
What is the service ceiling of your training aircraft? What is the practical significance of this bit of performance information? The service ceiling of an aircraft is defined in Chapter 9 of the Pilot's Handbook of Aeronautical Knowledge as "the altitude at which the airplane is unable to climb at a rate greater than 100 feet per minute." It is not, however, the highest altitude that the aircraft can achieve. That is the aircraft's absolute altitude, also discussed in Chapter 9. Many low-powered single-engine trainers have very respectable service ceilings. A 100-horsepower 1976 Cessna 150 Commuter's service ceiling is 14,000 feet.

Remember, however, that when air temperatures heat up, nonturbocharged aircraft engines lose ability to make power, so the service ceiling for such a day may be lower than published. That is, your aircraft will only be able to develop a fraction of the climb rate you'd expect on a cooler day at a given altitude. That is known as a high density altitude condition. Density altitude and other planning considerations associated with summer flying were reviewed in the May 31, 2002, Training Tips.

Service ceiling and absolute ceiling for an aircraft are listed in the performance specifications summary of many aircraft pilot's operating handbooks (POHs). A modified aircraft may have a service ceiling other than the one listed in its POH. If you move up to multiengine flying, you will encounter the notion that twin-engine aircraft have two service ceilings-the one defined above, and another for single-engine operation-this one providing only a 50-foot-per-minute climb rate!

Don't assume airplanes that are larger, faster, and more powerful than your airport's two-seat trainer fleet have higher service ceilings. A 1981 Piper Archer II service ceiling is listed at 13,650 feet. A 180-hp Cessna 172S Skyhawk SP (the subject of a feature article in the January 2003 AOPA Pilot by Nathan A. Ferguson) has a 14,000-foot service ceiling. The most important thing to remember is that as you approach your aircraft's service ceiling, your ability to out-climb obstacles, terrain, or an inadvertent encounter with bad weather is almost gone. Know the limits and avoid the problem.

My ePilot - Student Interest, Training Products
PILOTMALL.COM INTRODUCES FLIGHT BAGS has launched a line of fabric pilot bags in assorted sizes so that you can pick the one that best suits your flying needs. One of the new designs is a backpack that has the features of a regular flight bag, including a padded headset case, transceiver and cell phone pouches, and a standard-size logbook holder. It measures 17 inches by 14 inches by 8 inches and comes in black or navy blue. It sells for $49.99. Other sizes are available ranging in price from $24.99 for a small headset bag to $49.99 for a large pilot bag. Order online.

Note: Products listed have not been evaluated by ePilot editors unless otherwise noted. AOPA assumes no responsibility for products or services listed or for claims or actions by manufacturers or vendors.

My ePilot - Student Interest, Final Exam
Question: I am interested in buying a used airplane to use for my flight training and have narrowed my search to a few different makes and models. Does AOPA have any airplane reviews to help me learn more?

Answer: AOPA has a list of reviews from Adam to Zenith aircraft. AOPA also provides title services, insurance, and aircraft financing to help make your purchase a success. Click here for more information on AOPA's aircraft ownership resources.

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