This Week, Airplanes Aplenty...
All the general aviation world is already streaming into EAA AirVenture in Oshkosh, setting up and getting ready for the official opening tomorrow morning. Cirrus Design is showing off its new SRV, a VFR-only version of the company's SR20 model, priced at $189,900. Cirrus is also announcing the conversion of its fleet to all-glass cockpits, and a Centennial Edition of its SR22 will be unveiled at the show. Beechcraft also will display a Centennial Edition of its Bonanza. Mooney will debut its 50th Anniversary Ovation 2DX, plus new paint schemes for all of its planes. Light jets will be lacking as Cessna's new Citation Mustang will make the rounds in mockup only and Eclipse (due to a gear collapse) won't have an actual airplane at the show either. Cessna's mockup will be nicely outfitted though, with a new Garmin G1000 avionics panel. Cirrus is also announcing two new retrofit options for current owners: air conditioning for the SR22, and a supplemental semi-portable oxygen system available for all Cirrus models. The Cessna piston lineup will feature the Skyhawk SP, Turbo Skylane, Turbo Stationair, and Grand Caravan. Jets will include the Citation CJ1 and Citation CJ2.
....New Choices For Homebuilders....
While all the big manufacturers appear in force at AirVenture, the heart of the show (and it seems the field from which all good things come) is the experimental and kitplane fleet. New Glastar is showing off its all-new aircraft, the "Sportsman 2+2," a taildragger that can be converted to tricycle gear, floats, or skis. Two optional rear jumpseats can accommodate pax up to five feet tall. Sonex will unveil two new designs: the Xenos, a two-place, all-metal motor glider, and the Waiex, which meets the known criteria for the s yet-to-be-real Light Sport Aircraft category. Glastar's Sportsman is being marketed as a kind of aerial SUV, able to carry two pilots, full fuel, and 300 pounds of outdoor gear. The prototype is outfitted with 26-inch tundra tires and is powered by a normally aspirated, 180-hp Lycoming O-360, swinging a Hartzell 80-inch constant-speed propeller, for a cruise of 130 knots. The company claims float takeoffs will only require nine to12 seconds of water dancing before liftoff. There is much, much more to see at AirVenture, and AVweb's staff is already on site, ready to bring you all the sights and sounds and news from the field.
...As Weak Economy Grinds Along
The General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA) reported on Friday that 1,031 units (aircraft delivered) for the first half of 2003 represents a drop of 13.8 percent from the same period last year. Shipments of single-engine piston airplanes actually were up 1.4 percent over the same period last year -- from 663 to 672. Riding that trend, Mooney, whose plant was shut down just a year ago, is now building aircraft at the rate of about five per month, and last week the company said they expect to be at seven per month by January. Tiger Aircraft made an offer to pay $2.8 million to buy a controlling interest in Commander Aircraft's parent company, Aviation General, The Oklahoman reported last week. Commander filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy last December, and has been operating in a limited mode since then. The investment, if OK'd by the courts, would enable Commander to resume full production as soon as September, the company said. Overall, "The positive news is that single-engine piston shipments are holding steady," said GAMA CEO Ed Bolen.