AirVenture 2010: OSH Mini-Blogs
Bose Marches Along
It seems hard to imagine, but when Bose introduced the first noise cancelling headset in 1989, it caused a stir that bordered on the scandalous. I can't recall if they did the actual product intro at Oshkosh, but the reaction was memorable: Are these guys kidding? A $1000 headset? Nobody is going to buy that.
Of course, reaction from the peanut gallery was wrong. Bose understood then and still understands that there's not just a niche market for high-quality audio products but one that represented substantial volume. In introducing the new A20 headset at AirVenture on Monday, Bose continues plying the high-end market with an improved product.
But is it really improved? It sure sounded like it during the brief product intro we attended on Monday morning. For dramatic effect, Bose had us compare the A20's performance with that of its former flagship, the Headset X, no slouch itself. I'm not sure I'd call the performance difference dramatic, but it's definitely noticeable enough to say…how'd they do that? They did it with substantial advances in processing technology and precision sensing and control of the noise-cancelling signal generation.
An observation about pricing. Bose's basic price point for new headsets has remained the same for 21 years—right around $1000. In 1989 dollars, the A20 would cost $556—a little more than half its 2010 price. Looked at the other way around, the original Bose headset would cost $1700 in 2010 dollars.
That shows at least two things: Competition has probably kept prices in order but the larger factor may be the relentless downward cost of manufacturing the chips that make these gadgets possible in the first place.
Barren North 40
I didn't get out to the North 40 at Wittman until Monday evening but, much to my surprise, it was still mostly barren of airplanes. EAA obviously decided to keep the area closed to arrivals which, frankly, puzzled me until we wheeled the AVweb Mobile News Unit—otherwise known as a golf cart—into the grass and promptly sunk up to the axles.
It's drying out, but it's still soggy. I give EAA credit for making the difficult decision to keep that area closed until it's negotiable. Nothing is worse than trying to extricate an airplane mired up to its gear doors in midwest loamy muck. I didn't hear any complaints from the campers who are occupying the high ground and the mosquitoes are loving it.
Lycoming's Technology Creep
Lycoming has traditionally been a company that moves at the blinding speed of a retreating glacier when it comes to technology implementation. Or so it used to be. But not anymore. The company announced Monday that its new O-233 LSA powerplant will have electronic ignition. That's not a full-up engine management system like the IE2 but a simpler capacitance discharge system best thought of as an electronic replacement for traditional magnetos.
Here's the part that makes the most sense about this: Lycoming realizes that the expensive and sophisticated IE2 is too big a hammer for small displacement engines, although its plan is migrate the system down into engines such as the popular O-360 line. But the more basic electronic ignition will also propagate up from the 233 into the middle of the line, too, so Lycoming will have a nice competitive edge with an overlap of the two systems.