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.