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AirVenture 2014: A Winner, But Why?

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My wife keeps a detailed diary of her daily life, but I lack the discipline so I'm guessing about how many times I've been to Oshkosh. I think it's 27 years or thereabouts. For me, personally, this year's show was among the most interesting, vibrant and energetic. I finished up on Sunday morning exhausted, but oddly buoyant. For a hard-crusted cynic like me, that's saccharin-sweet praise indeed.

What the hell is going on? Are we witnessing the leading edge of the great recovery we've all been hoping for? Frankly, I doubt it. My theory, which I discussed with Jack Pelton in this podcast, is that two things are at work. First, it has been six dreary years since the economy crumped in 2008 and, as Pelton observed, maybe people have gotten their heads wrapped around the fact that the economy and things in general have settled into the new normal. They're tired of denying themselves simple pleasures for worrying about what's going to happen next. The general economy is performing acceptably if not exceptionally well, but consumer confidence and the general mood, according to recent Gallup polls, are unremarkable.

Second, I think AirVenture lives in and creates its own ecosystem within the larger aviation economy.  If it has ever been a reflection of everything else in aviation, I think it's less so now. It's a thing unto itself and as other shows contract, AirVenture becomes more important as a must-do marketing outlet for many companies.

And frankly, EAA just did an exceptional job with the show this year. The mix of the Thunderbirds, the One Week Wonder, the Valdez STOL pilots and the usual top-flight aerobatic performers may have come together to create the perfect attractive mix at the perfect time. EAA's pre-show promotion, I think, has been a beat or two better.

I surveyed the vendor hangars on Friday, Saturday and Sunday and every single one reported a better year over last year. The Aircraft Spruce booth was mobbed two deep as late as Saturday afternoon and people were buying everything from headsets to brake parts. The same was true of avionics vendors and companies selling refurb parts.

When I polled the man on the street, no single thing stood out, not the MVP flying bass boat, not AOPA's rebuilt Cessnas, not the product intros from Garmin and BendixKing and not Cessna's diesel 172. No one had an extra special thing worthy of comment and neither did I.

On the other hand, I'm not so sure aircraft companies had a better year than average. I ran into Darin Hart on Sunday morning and he said this year's AirVenture was typical. A few leads to follow and some tire kickers, but no great burst of airplane sales. American Champion said the same. That's why I think we're not witnessing anything other than a great show year for sharply contained reasons. I don't see underlying market forces that suggest a robust turnaround. We'll see what develops over the next 12 months. Meanwhile, a tip of the hat to Jack Pelton and EAA for effective, professional organization and promotion of a show that hasn't always had that.

While I'm at it, some recognition and thanks to the exceptional AVweb staff. This year's AirVenture turned out to be the most intense any of us have seen in years and maybe ever. Thanks to Russ Niles, Rick Durden and Larry Anglisano for hard work on the show grounds and to Mary Grady who did our off-site reporting this year. Ashley Anglisano debuted admirably as an editorial intern. My wife, Val Oakley, stepped in when needed for factotum duties. Although you rarely see his name, Scott Simmons, our webmaster, stitches things together against difficult daily deadlines and is the only person I know who can operate for a week with two hours of sleep. And thanks to publisher Tom Bliss for ad sales efforts, without which you wouldn't be seeing any of this. Also, a nod to EAA's press meister Dick Knapinski for his assistance and remaining far more unflappable on a 21-press conference day than I ever could.

Here are some other voices.

Although I don't have the hard data to back it up, my impression is that AirVenture was bigger, better attended and more productive for the vendors than it has been in a while. Those attending seemed happy to be there and I saw lots of people carrying purchases made at the booths. Although there weren't many big announcements, there was enough news to show some forward momentum in an industry that's been basically cannibalizing itself for the past few years.

It's good to see Mooney back and while the news on the engine and fuels front was positive, the move to diesel has become another cost for an already-prohibitive market for those who work for a living. A $435,000 Cessna 172? Seems otherworldly to me but it's not out of line with its competitors and that's the rub. Still, dreamers dream and they all seem to end up at AirVenture. It's when they stop coming that we'll have to really start worrying. --Russ Niles, Editor in Chief

This year's AirVenture just felt better to me than recent years. Perhaps it was the comfortable weather, but both exhibitors and visitors had a noticeable spring in the step and folks seemed to smile more. For some, there was plenty to smile about. For instance, all eyes were on Avidyne, which showed up with a fully certified IFD540 GPS, a product that was stalled in the development process for a few years and nearly cost early adopters some money and the company its credibility. It was the same for Bendix King and the now certified KSN770 GPS, a product that perhaps set the record for the longest time in development. 

While I didn't see any products that I consider game-changing, there were plenty of hits on my radar to watch over the next year. This includes the 10-buck-per-hour Sun Flyer solar electric trainer, AOPA's Reimagined Cessna 152 refurb program that attempts to offer a familiar alternative to high-priced LSAs, and a noticeable presence of Mooney Aircraft that hinted of better times and a market in an upswing. I'm not letting my guard down, but I walk away from AirVenture 2014 with enough evidence that the shrunken market is at least stabilizing. --Larry Anglisano

 

I was struck by two things this year. First the airplane camping area filled up--that hasn't happened in at least five years. That's a positive data point, I think. A friend who drove his RV in was directed to a camp site a half mile further away than when he arrived on the same day last year. He told me he was amazed at the number of drive-in campers this year. Second, even though there was a striking number of empty vendor spaces, both indoors and out, there was a sense of optimism among people I spoke with that I had not felt in recent memory. They liked what they saw and they were optimistic about new technology, although they didn't believe any of it would cut the cost of flying.  

One vendor did tell me that sales have continued to drop in his niche of aviation, so he probably won't be back next year. Nevertheless, at times the excitement around me was palpable, particularly when I was in the North 40 and an airplane would taxi in, shut down and the occupants emerge fired up to be at AirVenture as well as on Saturday afternoon as I marveled at the throngs coming in the main gate headed for the flight line to watch the airshow. And, the curmudgeon in me was pleased to observe that some pilots still just don't get the briefing. One guy had his charcoal grill happily smoking away directly under the wing of his airplane and the 172 that departed ahead of me on runway 27 promptly turned left (the NOTAM calls for continuing directly west for five miles) and flew down the railroad tracks that define the Ripon/Fisk arrival against arriving traffic. Where is a dope slap when you need one?--Rick Durden

 

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Comments (74)

Some friends and I arrived at Oshkosh in my 414 on the first Sunday earlier in the day than I've ever come in previous years, yet we were parked in the North 40 further away than ever before. I've never seen so many airplanes there so early in the week. Also, on Monday morning I walked by the front general admissions gate and saw a sea of people standing in line waiting to buy tickets. Those events and the shear number of people on the grounds made me think this was the most crowded AirVenture I've seen in years. It was a great show and I had a great time.

Posted by: John Ewald | August 4, 2014 8:14 AM    Report this comment

"my impression is that AirVenture was bigger, better attended and more productive for the vendors than it has been in a while."

I wonder if some of this is because AOPA has stopped doing their yearly convention and many people saw this as their only opportunity for a big aviation get-together and chance to see several vendors at once.

Hopefully next year's event will be at least as good.

Posted by: Gary Baluha | August 4, 2014 8:23 AM    Report this comment

What did Michael Huerta say about third class medicals (and Part 23 revision) in his AirVenture speech? I have read only glancing references to this important announcement but no direct reporting of what he said. Maybe that means he didn't really say anything.

Posted by: A Richie | August 4, 2014 10:29 AM    Report this comment

Well, there seems to be a greater thrust out of in this years Airventure. AOPA's refurbed C152 project, and the Triple R Affordable Aircraft inception and its concept. Avydine's poke at Garmin's neglected and wonderful navigators is making things boil in the avionics aftermarket domain and scholarship programs being in high regard. The flying spirit is lifting and gaining support and enthusiasm. I am glad. Now, everyone push, pull or get out if the way.

Posted by: Rafael Sierra | August 4, 2014 10:39 AM    Report this comment

I went to the Michael Huerta talk on Thursday and came away GREATLY disappointed. I wasn't alone. You are correct, A. RIchie, they talked for an hour and 15 minutes and didn't say anything the aviators who crammed Forum building 7 came to hear ... NOTHING AT ALL !!!

He first spoke for 30 minutes extolling the many virtues of all the great and wonderful things FAA has done. I'm glad he didn't hurt himself patting himself on the back while simultaneously beating his chest! Afterward, Jack Pelton delayed questions from the anxious audience for an additional 15 minutes or so ... I suspect to give less time to "real" questions from concerned aviators. Finally, when it came time for audience Q&A, I was hell bent to be recognized and WAS one of the six or seven who were.

Since the medical issue had already been discussed ad nauseum, I decided to implore the Administrator to put his support behind the FAR Part 23 re-write to INCLUDE the addition of the "Primary - Noncommercial (PNA) airworthiness category for legacy certificated airplanes. The crowd clapped signifying their interest in same. Jack Pelton never allowed the Administrator to answer and merely said that it had been inadvertently left out of the FAR 23 re-write but 'they' -- the mythical THEY -- were working on it. Worth noting is the fact that the Administrator mentioned that FAA funding was going to come up again next year but I guess he forgot that the last full funding DIRECTED the FAA to implement the FAR Part 23 re-write ... and they STILL haven't done it. (SIC)

With respect to the third class medical, Mr Huerta said that a NPRM had been written, was in the very large review process and it'd be out later in the year. Yeah -- right -- right after UAV legislation. He said that using the lawmaking process to implement 3rd class medical relief was NOT the way to go. He said that the AOPA / EAA petition for medical relief was NOT the way to go. He said that writing 40,000 different letters was NOT the way to go. He said the FAA wanted to do it "smartly" (oxymoron intended) and just give them still more time.

I came away -- as most everyone did -- greatly dismayed. Mr Huerta proved that he is the quintessential politician and NOT truly a managing Administrator, to me. I guess I'll have to wait until I pass away before something happens to allow driver's license medicals for day VFR recreational flying.

Meanwhile ... I think it's time to sell my two fine GA legacy airplanes. I've had it with the FAA !!

Posted by: Larry Stencel | August 4, 2014 11:20 AM    Report this comment

Larry, I am not ready to sell yet but I agree with your statement. I also admit that I am somewhat of a cynic and a contrarian and an optimist. I complain about the FAA and yet I cooperate with their FAASteam program hoping for recognition of practical solutions for us, the pilot population.

While googling I read about Solomon Asch, a pioneer in social psychology, conducted experiments into conformity demonstrating that, ."...when asked to match 2 lines of similar length, most people would rather give an obviously wrong answer that keeps them in a group than a correct answer that would make them outsiders."

Could Pelton be in this Solomon Asch's scenario or was he diffusing a volatile situation? Regardless, his intervention allowed for even more public dissatisfaction. No conclusion.

Posted by: Rafael Sierra | August 4, 2014 12:41 PM    Report this comment

I have personally asked for help from Mr Pelton on a subject of importance to me and he acted nearly immediately. He sorta knows who I am through a friend who knows him better. I believe him to be both a good Director of EAA and a good guy, generally. I'm not sure why he wouldn't allow Mr Huerta to answer my question but -- it could have been related to work being done 'quietly' on the subject. I just don't know.

Of MORE relevance, however, is that the FAA is SO out of touch with the issues confronting aviation. I had a 'run in' with a FSDO engineer last year over an NPRM to institute an AD against all PA-28 airplanes which would have -- effectively -- grounded the fleet. After MUCH work, I finally persuaded them to nix the AD in favor of an SAIB but ... why should the FAA be the adversary?? You'd think they'd recognize that 'we' are their customer and try to take care of us. Instead, THEY are the customer and WE have to take care of them AND use confrontational methods to get their attention when they're out of lne.

Here's the thing to remember from Mr Huerta's speech. Over and over, he kept saying, "How do we say 'yes' to our constituents? Well, to that I'd say ... "By saying YES, dammit !!" The guy talks the talk but does not walk the walk.

Mr Pelton, on the other hand -- I believe -- IS walking a tight line between trying to remain on the good side of the FAA while simultaneously delivering the 'change' that is being demanded by HIS constituents. However you analyze the situation, I believe Jack Pelton to be good for both aviation AND the EAA. Despite no answer to my relevant question -- as judged by the audience feedback -- I he's a good guy. That said, ask me again next year ...

Posted by: Larry Stencel | August 4, 2014 1:41 PM    Report this comment

I attended the media press conference. Good questions were raised--many of them questioning FAA actions--not exactly a friendly press. Huerta bobbed and weaved--congratulated the hard-working FAA employees--spoke of the difficulty in changing existing laws, etc. etc. etc.

Some of the statements were downright laughable--"How can we (the FAA) show progress?"

Others were obscure--in reference to the third class medical, "The expected legislation wouldn't surprise either those who support the exemption petition or the House Legislation...........(?) When pressed for specifics, he responded with "I can't answer that question".

When asked about lack of progress on the medical issue or Part 23, there were non-statements like "We're having to interpret shades of gray" and "We do it together with the industry, for better results and higher safety." When asked why changing rules (and bad ones at that) took so long, he again resorted to the "excellent FAA employees working as hard as they can"--that "changing direction of an administration with 47,000 people doesn't happen quickly."

Avweb's Ric Durden asked a very specific question about FAA accountability--(paraphrasing) "Airport managers are required to produce and submit FAA-required forms on time, but the FAA Airports District Office hasn't managed to produce a report in TWO YEARS." Huerta was saved by the USAF Thunderbirds arrival after only 20 minutes of bobbing and weaving--"I can't out-shout this noise, I guess we're done." Lucky for him--the way the press conference was going, it would have been increasingly difficult for him to continue.

I turned to another journalist and asked "Have you ever heard so many weasel words in 20 minutes?"

Congress--and the flying public, should DEMAND that the FAA Administrator have some direct knowledge of the industry the FAA is trying to regulate.

Posted by: jim hanson | August 4, 2014 1:42 PM    Report this comment

As I reflect -- again -- on Mr Huerta's diatribe during the Forum discussion at Airventure, I should tell all that he said that what they ultimately see in the third-class medical NPRM "would not come as a surprise to anyone." I don't know how to take that ... as good news or bad news. I guess we all have to wait and see.

Posted by: Larry Stencel | August 4, 2014 1:45 PM    Report this comment

Jim H ... as you were typing YOUR blog comments, so was I. So it looks as if he was saying the same thing in the media tent as he did in the much larger Forum 7 building earlier.

When walking out of the Forum 7 building, I asked another online aviation journalist, "was it GOOD for you" ... with the obvious connotation.

Pretty soon, he'll be saying that the medical NPRM couldn't be published because the FAA's hard drive crashed, too.

It's getting increasingly hard to remain positive in this environment !! I think it's time to take back our skies from those guys ....

Posted by: Larry Stencel | August 4, 2014 1:54 PM    Report this comment

Thank you Larry for the excellent first-hand report.

"Inadvertently" leaving out the much-discussed PNA category from the Part 23 re-write is like Ford claiming they "inadvertently" left the engine out of my truck when it rolled off the assembly line.

If Huerta is so against pilots begging for help with 3rd class medicals from their Congressional representatives, then why didn't he and his predecessors get off their duffs and help out before it reached this point? Rhetorical question, I know. I expect the "new" proposal will have some sort of poison pill attached, like you must have an on-site AME check during preflight, or wear a heart monitor during flying activities or some other nonsense. Just look at the current catch-22 with the LSA medical requirements if you ever failed a 3rd class; this policy currently has some people avoiding their doctor when they should be going for treatment. Yikes!

Now, this can be expected from rank and file bureaucrats, but with Jack Pelton supposedly doing the clapping circus seal act it sounds like we have extremely weak "leadership" that has already folded-up in these matters. Just send in your membership dollars with auto-renewal and shut up, they seem to be saying. I do give some credit to AOPA's Baker for finally getting the ear of the FAA (or did he just luck into that meeting where FAA announced the 3rd class revisions?)

Rafa, I do want to remain positive and I admire your sense of goodwill, but it takes a little let up in the rain once in a while to keep the candle burning. Keep up the good work.

Posted by: A Richie | August 4, 2014 2:01 PM    Report this comment

Great analogy with the Ford engine comment.

As I see it -- and despite Huerta's comment telling the crowd that the House and Senate Bills would only complicate the situation -- it's TIME to have the FAA directed to make the changes all of us are demanding. How sad that an Agency who has promulgation of aviation as one facet of its Mission Statement must be MADE to do it's job. ALL of us need to support HR 3708, S2103 and whatever Bill comes from Sen Inhofe / Pilot Protection Act II. I believe it's going to be the only way something that comes close to being what WE want comes to fruition.

I'm with you, A. Richie, they'll figure out a way both to insert a poison pill into any new regulation AND insulate themselves legally ... which is OK with me.

Posted by: Larry Stencel | August 4, 2014 3:00 PM    Report this comment

"Others were obscure--in reference to the third class medical, "The expected legislation wouldn't surprise either those who support the exemption petition or the House Legislation."

Nothing obscure in that, frankly it is crystal clear. We will not be" surprised," notice that he did not say we would not be "disappointed." That pretty well means that the FAA is going to come up with some weasely worded proposal that will be disseminated to other gov't agencies to be studied into oblivion or some distant future point at which congress will do something to restart the process. This should come as no "surprise" to anyone.

Posted by: Richard Montague | August 4, 2014 3:02 PM    Report this comment

Paul, while things may have felt good, as you know, reality is quite different. AirVenture is about setting the atmosphere for the week; to me, it's stopped being an indicator of anything. However, I do think that it could be, if people start looking in the right direction.

Like, how many people come through the gates who are pilots? Of those pilots that came, how many flew in? How was parking in Fon du Lac and Appleton? Where they full? When I was looking at the North 40/Warbird webcam on Friday, the aircraft parking seemed rather open. On Fridays, it used to get packed. I remember Paul, when you mentioned that looking at the camp ground was a good indicator that it was going to be a busy show. Personally, I find it disappointing that the campground is where you look for the indicator of success... that shows me that people would rather drive there than fly... which further shows the dismall state GA is in.

When the numbers of pilots has been on the steady decline since stagflation, you come to realize that little changes aren't going to do anything. The AOPA "reimagined" aircraft? A joke (that's not any different that the EAA Sweepstakes Cherokee 140 that was given away for years). Won't go anywhere. Young Eagles? That didn't do squat either. Get your rich friends to learn how to fly? Please. Nothing has worked.

My last note is this... Why is it that I have to go to the federal government to get a pilot's license, when I go to my state for everything else? Would you want to go to the feds to be able to pilot a boat? A motorhome? A motorcycle? Why is it that the price of new aircraft has skyrocketed, when there hasn't been much innovation (The aircraft parachute is the exception, but I would call that a perceived safety benefit)? Why are we happy paying six figures for an aircraft that basically equals a 1987 Ford Taurus that is still in production, but with a different engine cluster under the dash, and now a more expensive engine as an option?

The whole thing is insane. We keep going round and round with the same solution, but packaged differently. It's not working.

The answer lies beyond the FAA, though they are a small part of the problem. The problem is not something that the GA alphabet groups want to deal with. And, it's not something we know much about, unfortunately.

Posted by: Albert Dewey | August 4, 2014 8:20 PM    Report this comment

Unfortunately, I was not able to go to Oshkosh this year, however, Had I been able to go I would have driven. My cost would have been around $300 for gas from CT to WI in my Subaru or around $350 in my Town Car. I would not be able to rent a decent 10 year old C172 for 2 hours flight time for cost. The bottom line is that aviation has become too expensive for the common man. Even EAB costs are going out of sight. Will the driver's license be the silver bullet? No, it is the $$. Unless there is a way to reduce the cost of flying, the number of people pursuing the dream will become fewer and fewer. There are those out there who will tell us to shut up and accept the cost. That is well and fine but that attitude will not encourage pilot starts nor even allow the status quo. I feel very fortunate to have been able to fly for the past 45 years and even to have been able to make a few $ in doing so. Now my flying is limited to instruction as I can't afford to pay for my own.

Posted by: Leo LeBoeuf | August 4, 2014 8:44 PM    Report this comment

For decades FAA staffers have told the Administrator "we were here before you came and we'll be here after you're gone" and it is true. As much as I dislike the (any) Administrator all they can do is bob and weave. They have no answers, they control nothing, and no one in the administration nor in congress can do anything about it.

Unfortunately, neither can the pilot community. Since the 1945 G.I. bill that resulted in so many new pilots from the military ranks who were steeped in obeying authority rather than disputing it, we have had a pilot community willing to take whatever CAA then FAA decreed. And now it's coming back to haunt us, those old pilots are gone but the mindset is ingrained in aviation and flying isn't that "Put out my hand, and touched the face of God" anymore. Nor will it ever return.

Posted by: Darryl Philips | August 4, 2014 8:49 PM    Report this comment

Did anyone sell anything? Most of the aviation companies on Facebook didn't mention any sales, those that did sell didn't sell more than one

Posted by: phil grainger | August 4, 2014 8:57 PM    Report this comment

The argument that the FAA is an incompetent entity has been beat to death and still no gain on our behalf. Simply, we now have more regulations that add to operational costs and confusion and increase the general aviation industry's decline - we all know this, perhaps the FAA, OEMs and others don't as they continue on their merry way unaware of their "unintended" negative influence. It is our responsibility to identify the wrong and create and submit practical solutions.

But this won't take place until the GA community unites with strong grassroots support and guided by astute selected representatives. Only then will the GA community be effectively able to force and implement needed practical solutions, solutions that should have been in effect ten years ago. Mainly the pilot population decline contributing factors and the aging aircraft fleet. Save GA!

Posted by: Rafael Sierra | August 5, 2014 1:40 AM    Report this comment

I nominate you Rafael as an astute selected representative; you have a way with words!

Posted by: A Richie | August 5, 2014 9:19 AM    Report this comment

Thank you A Richie. I think that the Paul Bertorelli's of the world should lead. I would volunteer to be in the mix attending to minute jobs as these in combination are vital. AOPA may be too "political" and self-serving but they and EAA have the base for organizing a continuous, free from deceit, national attention-getter. Friends from the mass media willing to volunteer for public benefit are a good asset, we need them to keep the noise going while we fix kinks in the system. We all gain by revitilizing GA. SAVE GA!

Posted by: Rafael Sierra | August 5, 2014 10:19 AM    Report this comment

Some random thoughts:

On attendance by comparing the campgrounds, I arrived on Saturday for the first time and was parked in row 521, near the North 40 Cafe. Last year I arrived on Sunday and was also parked in row 521--only 3 airplanes' closer. A tram tour to the south showed that the South 40 (aka North Fond du Lac) was equally full. But later in the week, as early arrivals left early, the vacated slots weren't filled in until the EAA volunteers started doing that Friday morning. So I'd have to say that mid-week attendance lagged, while early and late attendance was equal to or greater than past years.

On the cost of flying in, even with the OSH discounts that most FBOs offer (ranging from 50 cents to a dollar off "normal"), I still spent an average of about $5.80/gallon. At just under 10 gal/hr and 15.5 flight hours round trip, that's just under $900 for gas alone; as any owner knows, that's way less than the actual ownership cost for those 15.5 hours. Yeah, flying costs way too much, and that has to be the most damaging aspect affecting GA.

On the AOPA rehab projects for 150s and 172s, that's grossly under advertised. I learned about it at Airventure--and yet I voraciously read most aviation websites, blogs, etc. and participate in several online forums, so you'd think I'd have seen something about it somewhere. Will that revitalize GA? Certainly looking at the refurbished 150 on display, that's a lot more visually appealing than the average 150 at most flight schools, and it's a whole lot less expensive to buy than a new but grossly over-priced product from Cessna-Beech (or Piper). But see the cost of fuel comments, above--will that continue to be the back-breaker that allows students to learn to fly but be unable to afford to fly after getting their plastic green card?

On the 3rd class medical issue, I hate to rely on Congress to do anything productive (or as my poli-sci professor back some 50+ years ago often said, "Congress has never been accused of accomplishing anything of value!"). But at the rate of progress that the FAA has made on other issues in spite of Congressional mandating strings to the FAA's funding, and the wishy-washy statements made by Administrator Huerta, I wouldn't recommend relying on the FAA to get it done in my lifetime--or in any current adult's lifetime. Incidentally, I don't see him as a "quintessential politician"--a truly "quintessential politician" by definition has to be someone who dodges and weaves and accomplishes little, but is so beloved by his constituents that they don't notice it. He's too transparent and obvious.

On comparing Airventure 2014 to past OSH experiences, I'd have to say that Pelton and company have done an admirable job of pulling EAA back out of the "we're better than you" clouds where it appeared to be heading after the Poberzny family relinquished leadership. While some die-hard EAAers may decry the non-do-it-yourself atmosphere punctuated by including the T-birds in the airshows, the fact is that all of us in GA are in the same mixing bowl together, some with more and some with less assets, some building our own aircraft but most buying ours, but all of us needing to hang together.

Speaking of airshows, am I alone in thinking that many of the acts are rather repetitive of one another, with more violent twists and turns than smooth flying? Not that they aren't great performers, but I missed the fluid performances of Julie Clark in her Mentor, Jim Pietz in his Bonanza, Bob Carlton in the jet powered glider (although he flew the Sub-Sonex) and others. I do appreciate the flowing beauty of the Aeroshell team's and Matt Younkin's performances.

And so, the planning begins for next year, with the hope that Airventure will continue to be the mecca for GA, with or without the cooperation of the FAA and Congress.

Posted by: Cary Alburn | August 5, 2014 10:54 AM    Report this comment

"Speaking of airshows, am I alone in thinking that many of the acts are rather repetitive of one another, with more violent twists and turns than smooth flying?"

Nope, I feel exactly the same way, and is why I use the time during the airshow performances during the day to do my shopping and browsing. The crowds are smaller during that time, and most of the show performances (with the exception of the new-or-unusual aircraft demos, or as you mentioned, the Aeroshell team) all seem to be about the same thing to me. I wish I could have been making the trip to Oshkosh while Bob Hoover was performing.

Posted by: Gary Baluha | August 5, 2014 11:55 AM    Report this comment

I have to give credit to the airshow pilots doing the frenzied high G airbatics with incredibly high powered modern purpose built specials, but I really love to watch the more traditional ones such as John Mohr (sp?) in a stock Stearman, now that's impressive!

Posted by: Richard Montague | August 5, 2014 1:34 PM    Report this comment

Cary Alburn, " but all of us needing to hang together." You are so correct.

Posted by: Rafael Sierra | August 6, 2014 9:38 AM    Report this comment

Like Gary, I mostly used the airshow display during my first (and so far, only) trip to Oshkosh last year as vendor-visiting and idea-copying time. Watching people do things in airplanes that should be leaving said airplanes fluttering to the ground in pieces just isn't interesting. I'll watch a glider demo, or some guys in their homebuilts, or a Bob Hoover-esque show, but dumping the controls in an Extra and flopping about just looks too painful.

Regarding the Feds, they're mostly keeping their head in the sand (especially the PNC, medicals, and hangar policies). They're ignoring reality and continuing to write rules as if the world worked the way it does in their heads, instead of the way it is in reality. When the NTSB says "we have no data and no evidence, but we don't care"... I don't think it can get any more clear than that.

Posted by: Bob Martin | August 6, 2014 9:56 AM    Report this comment

Gary Album, Gary Baluha, Richard Montague--I totally agree. In my magazine column last year--written only two days after the airshow, I asked EAA to tone down the aerobatics. We had 8 different acts, all doing the same thing--accompanied by an overmodulated, unintelligible, and frenzied announcer screaming into the microphone--and accompanied by raucous "music" that added nothing to the show. I counseled EAA to "know your audience--this isn't NASCAR."

I mentioned that "if I'm going to be critical, I should come up with suggestions"--and advocated a short-field contest--as seen at Valdez, Alaska. My intent was not only to do the contest, but to let any pilot "run what ya brung!"--there are any number of Helio Courious, Fiesler Storches, Beavers (and Turbo Beavers), and this year, the Caribou. I also suggested that since this was the 90th anniversary of Steve Wittman's first flight (they named the airport after him) that they might consider pulling some of his historic airplanes out of the museum and firing them up (they have oil in them) even if they didn't fly. Finally, I suggested that EAA fly some of the many airplanes they own--how many EAA members have seen the Spirit of St. Louis replica fly--or any of the dozens of other airworthy aircraft? When I did a museum in Minnesota, EAA loaned 6 of them to us--we flew them in--when the museum closed after the death of the owner, we flew them back--they are still there.

I received a letter back within days--and EAA adopted the Valdez fly-off. Pelton has done a great job of making EAA once again a "Bottom-up" organization.

Posted by: jim hanson | August 6, 2014 10:13 AM    Report this comment

On the subject of FAA inaction--several people have mentioned "take back our skies." The reality is that NOTHING changes a bureaucracy--except a revolution.

At my FBO (and others in the area)--I've already seen people dealing with he FAA the only ways they can--either by being non-participants (avoiding anything that requires FAA oversight--like conducting charter, etc.) or simply ignoring the law--flying without medicals, flying without biennials, etc. That leads to flying without annual inspections on their airplanes--and ignoring many other FARs as well.

Government regulation ALWAYS have "Unintended Consequences"--hurting the very people they purport to help, and making things worse instead of better. FAA's unresponsive attitude is creating a culture of "Hell, I'll just fly anyway". Like the administration's policy of "selective enforcement"--anarchy follows.

Posted by: jim hanson | August 6, 2014 10:25 AM    Report this comment

"Government is not reason, it is not eloquence, it is force; like fire, a troublesome servant and a fearful master."

-Attributed to George Washington, 1st President of the United States of America

Posted by: A Richie | August 6, 2014 10:42 AM    Report this comment

Wonder if Paul will find a subject one day that will not be hijacked into hate for gubment or the cost of flying. Betting a cold one it won't happen. Or maybe he just feels, 'Hell, I'll just keep writing'. Lol.

From fearful anarchists to hapless victims, always an education to read so many pilots just can't get their lives in balanced, working order. Granted, it's a tough road to realize we have complete power and freedom beyond anyone or anything. Some never see it. It's not a trendy awareness - easier to bitch and moan and self-delude that it's smart and righteous, not obtuse and useless to constantly complain, instead of acting and doing. "We've met the enemy,..."

We get the GA we deserve.

Posted by: Dave Miller | August 6, 2014 1:11 PM    Report this comment

Paul, "They're tired of denying themselves simple pleasures for worrying about what's going to happen next. The general economy is performing acceptably if not exceptionally well, but consumer confidence and the general mood, according to recent Gallup polls, are unremarkable."

Your comment is subject to the stock market fluctuations - one day I feel good, the next day sucks - so I don't buy.

We need new and cheap airframes. Save GA!

Posted by: Rafael Sierra | August 6, 2014 1:15 PM    Report this comment

"We need new and cheap airframes. Save GA!"

Higher airplane prices leads to fewer sold, which leads to ever-higher prices. But it does work the opposite, too, and is why I support things like AOPA's 150/152 refurbishment, and if FlightDesign's C4 really does come in around $250k. That still puts it out of my reach, but at least it has better numbers than a 172 or Archer diesel. Maybe we are coming to the bottom of the canyon and starting our way back up, if only enough people stop bemoaning how GA is dead and dying.

I got started in GA a lot later than many others here, and it has been getting more expensive, but it's something I love and will do what I can to try and get more in to aviation and point out the ways it can be made less expensive. More airplanes sold will lead to lower prices which will lead to more planes sold. Maybe someday I might even be able to afford a brand-new plane (and not simply because I'm hopefully making more).

Posted by: Gary Baluha | August 6, 2014 2:29 PM    Report this comment

"Some never see it. It's not a trendy awareness - easier to bitch and moan and self-delude that it's smart and righteous, not obtuse and useless to constantly complain, instead of acting and doing. "We've met the enemy,..."

Dave, if you see what I see and hear what I hear from sources on just the Third Class medical issue, I doubt if you would write that. The medical issue is government at the agency level run off the rails. People aren't bitching about it, they are--mainly a group of forward-looking AMEs and the alphabets--trying to get this utterly useless and antiquated requirement eliminated.

And if you saw and heard the reaction to Michael Huerta's mumblings at AirVenture, I doubt you would mount a full-throated defense of government regulation, even though we all agree it has its place.

Posted by: Paul Bertorelli | August 6, 2014 2:42 PM    Report this comment

I didn't find you complaining about anything, Paul. My bad to make comparisons between many posters here and gov't employees I work with.

Will check my own complaining with better scrutiny in the future.

Posted by: Dave Miller | August 6, 2014 3:02 PM    Report this comment

"We get the GA we deserve."

NOBODY deserves what FAA has become.

The FAA willfully dismissed 16,000 letters asking for relief from an antiquated law. Remember "This is not high on our priority list"?

Remember the fact that it was listed as a 99 YEAR COMMENT PERIOD?

Had you heard for yourself the FAA Administrator constantly complimenting the "hard working FAA employees" "working in partnership with the industry"--you would be a skeptic of any change as well.

Had you heard him telling EAA, AOPA, and the press that "the exemption was not the way to make the change as it is harder to change law than to make law"--you would have been dismayed as well.

Had you heard him saying that the Legislative initiative (due to FAA's own inaction) was also not the way to go "because even if Congress mandates change, we are the ones that have to write the rules"--you would have been angry as well at him for taking Congress to task for daring to buck the imperial FAA.

On a lighter note--had you heard him saying that the FAA was "working on this as fast as they can"--you could be laughing (or crying along with the rest of us.

He mentioned how hard it is to make or change laws--yet he could get RID OF A BAD LAW in a matter of months (Light-Speed for the FAA) by simply using a strike-through and repealing it.

Can you imagine any corporation taking two years to change bad policy that the vast majority of their customers despise? Neither can I.

Posted by: jim hanson | August 6, 2014 3:40 PM    Report this comment

Can you imagine any corporation taking two years to change bad policy that the vast majority of their customers despise? "

Is that a rhetorical question?

All I ever try to say in these discussions is that I feel it important to be able to differentiate heat from light when it comes to the cost of flying or your 'imperial FAA'. I'm surrounded by success stories and have many of my own, even though cost is nearly driving me out of aviation and the FAA and I have had many run-ins. Big whoop. My happiness goes on. Does yours?

If I'm determined enough and my health hangs in, I'll keep flying and spreading positive messages about its rewards. If anyone wants to know how I was successful in every conflict I've had with the FAA, be happy to enlighten. They never won once.

Until then, or I'm booted off these threads, feel free to bore me endlessly with endless questions I'll never answer.

Posted by: Dave Miller | August 6, 2014 5:13 PM    Report this comment

We need new and cheap airframes. Save GA!

Posted by: Rafael Sierra | August 6, 2014 5:20 PM    Report this comment

We have all the engines, propellers and avionics needed. We do not have new airframes. We new airframes. There are 2000+ flight schools in the land. We can all buy one, or two, or three new "co-op" type C172s or equal. The solution is in getting everyone arguing lined up for take off at the same time. Save GA!

Posted by: Rafael Sierra | August 6, 2014 5:51 PM    Report this comment

Dave--the question isn't rhetorical at all. The statement is that FAA is unresponsive to the needs of its "Customers"--those who actually fly. I'm sure that if you were to take a poll of those on this board--and the pilot population in general, you would find that is the perception of the vast majority. The arrogance of the FAA in being non-responsive to a petition championed by 16,000 letter-writers is unbelievably arrogant. The comment about "not being high on our priority list" and a 99-year comment period only reinforce that fact. The fact that both EAA and AOPA--speaking for their hundreds of thousands of members--took the almost unprecedented step of asking Congress to intercede with the FAA ought to be a wake-up call.

I'm glad you are having a good time in aviation--as I have for 51 years. My hope is that others will have the same opportunity--but my fear is that the greatest threat to aviation is the hidebound and outdated policies of the FAA--an agency with a poor track record of effective legislation and getting things done on time and on budget. Look at this Avweb site--and every other aviation publication. The major newsmaker is the FAA--and they don't come out looking good. In addition to the medical debacle, look at the Congressionally-mandated Part 23 rewrite--two years and counting behind schedule. NextGen update--10 years behind and billions of dollars in over-runs. Look at aircraft certification horror stories--is it any wonder that Vans by itself creates more aircraft than all of the certified manufacturers combined? Why are all of the innovations in aircraft and avionics occurring in the NON-FAA certified products--and at far lower costs? Look at the size of your local FSDO--far, far larger than it was during the heyday of aviation, with fewer pilots and aircraft--we will soon have an FAA employee for ever two GA aircraft. It's hard to find success stories within the FAA, even if you look for them.

You cite "positive messages and rewards". I do that every month in multiple magazines. You mention "succeeding in every conflict I've had with the FAA"--as have I--for 51 years and 30,000 flight hours and multiple aviation businesses. I've never had an accident or violation. One of the reasons for the successful outcome is to defend rights to fly--"nobody respects a doormat."

Being critical of the FAA is not being negative--it is recognizing a problem and proposing a solution--that's positive. Try this experiment, as I have. Read through several aviation magazines. Note how many times the FAA is mentioned, then mark the results as positive, negative, or neutral. In 40 years of conducting this test, it rarely comes out positive.

Posted by: jim hanson | August 6, 2014 6:51 PM    Report this comment

Rafael Sierra--we DO have cheap airframes--but they are kit-built. The cost to FAA certify an airframe runs into the millions of dollars--ask Beechcraft (the Starship nearly broke them) Lancair (had to sell out to Cessna to get it certified), or Cirrus (burned through millions of dollars to get the aircraft certified). We USED to be the airframer to the world--there is a reason that most GA and commuter aircraft are now made overseas--it is easier to develop and certify an aircraft there, then certify it in the U.S. based on "reciprocity agreements". Think Diamond (made and certified in Austria, assembled in Canada), Embraer (Brazil) or the bulk of LSAs (Europe--especially the Czech Republic).

The success of the homebuilt movement is proof--and the success of "manufactured" SLSA aircraft (RV-12) is another way around it. On another thread, Paul said that with the engine costing $30,000--the prospect of a cheap LSA is not going to happen. For years, I've been championing rebuilt airplanes--the AOPA initiate is a good start--with Aviat doing the work. Redbird and their diesel 172 for about half the cost of a similar one from Cessna is another--as is the RRR concept of finding specialized shops to do the work, and negotiating OEM prices with the manufacturers. The concept is working for Nextant on Beechjets and Hawkers, and they are starting on King Airs. Jack Pelton will be hanging turbines on 421s and rebuilding the airframes, with other airframes in the works.

The danger to these rebuilders is if the factories choose to do it themselves--only the factory can truly "zero time" an airframe--much as engine rebuilders can zero time an engine. There is precedence for it--Beech ran many of the original Bonanza's back through the line and installed different wings on them (the reason there was no "R" model in the succession--it had already been used for these aircraft). Here's hoping the rebuilders succeed.

The only hope for more affordable airframes is if the FAA ever gets its house in order on a Part 23 Certification re-write--allowing simple recreational aircraft for private use (no charter=no mandate to "protect" the non-flying public). The FAA's OWN MANDATE of "twice the safety for half the cost" (a program that has now slipped two MORE years from the Congressional deadline) when it comes to certification would mean lower cost airframes--and possible manufacture of legacy airframes under the new certification. Until then, if we keep on certifying (or more correctly, NOT certifying) new airplanes under the existing rules, we will continue to have the existing results.

Posted by: jim hanson | August 6, 2014 7:12 PM    Report this comment

I understand. We need cheap new C172 airframes so that I can put an engine and propeller and avionics of my choice and then everyone else can do the same. Not extravagant late model diesel powered C172 or PA-28s. Every stakeholder, that is to say, every flight school should commit to a one time purchase of one or two or three new airframes then configured to suit. The rest of the market or what is left of the market should follow. I "re-imagine" a need of 20,000 airframes to satisfy the growing aging aircraft problem. Perhaps a 2 billion dollar exercise, perhaps more. The solution is in getting all involved in saving GA. No GA, no commercial aviation.

Posted by: Rafael Sierra | August 6, 2014 7:24 PM    Report this comment

Cessna has the tooling and the operational history to start this movement rapidly and readily under what I call a national emergency. Piper and others may want to get involved. Get a quote from all on 5k, 10k or 20k airframes with deliveries over a 24 month period. Do the same on engines, propellers and avionics OEMs and find the alternatives. Price the options, options a la Henry Ford, and simultaneously get purchase commitments from the aviation community. New airframes all wired with optional engine mounts and plug in avionics, 38 gal fuel cap.

Posted by: Rafael Sierra | August 6, 2014 7:44 PM    Report this comment

Over!

Posted by: Rafael Sierra | August 6, 2014 7:52 PM    Report this comment

I like it!--especially the "install your own engine option." The sticker will be using them for flight training--the old "protect the non-flying public." It's one thing to let people fly experimental--another to let non-pilots with no basis for knowing what may or may not be safe use them for hire.

A better solution would be if the FAA allowed "legacy" airplanes like 172s to be assembled like SLSA RV-12s--as long as they are configured strictly according to the manufacturers specifications, you don't have the 40 hour signoff of other experimentals.

Or maybe you could do both?

This would be an example where the FAA OUGHT to be able to move fast--there is precedence set by the SLSA aircraft--the airframes (and powerplants) are proven--all they have to do is change the FARs.

How hard could that be? If the inaction on other issues is any indication "somewhere between 2 years and 99 years."

Posted by: jim hanson | August 6, 2014 8:49 PM    Report this comment

I really like that idea. We still have the problem of engines costing too much (one can, for example, build a basic RV from all-new parts and the engine/prop combo could be up to 50% of the total cost).

A basic light airplane (which I consider as six seats or less, under 6000lb) shouldn't need certification like a business jet or big turboprop. LSA-style airframe and manufacturing certification is sufficient. Note the latter--the costs of running a Part 21 compliant manufacturing program are far greater than the (still too expensive) costs of certifying the airframe. We don't need FAA oversight of every step of every process involved. We don't see nearly that level of regulatory oversight in manufacturing in other safety-critical industries with much more public exposure (auto manufacturing, pharmaceuticals, etc.) and yet they all still manage to crank out hundreds of times more volume with lower defect rates. Requiring written notification to the FAA every time you move a fixture or workstation on the production floor is stupid.

Posted by: Bob Martin | August 7, 2014 5:43 AM    Report this comment

"Re-imagine" a think-tank, let's call it "Quadruple R", where great minds gather. These minds would have the task of detailing the concept, dealing with the FAA to make the product meet the needs, flight training and carry for hire, and controlling purchasing and sale contracts of airframes and other components. Delivery times and inventory and production control, all under a Just-In-Time process while demanding payment as work and parts or sub-assemblies are completed so that at the end all is paid as the units go out the door. Or simplifying, every order is to be CIA FOB Witchita KS or something like that. I want a C172H airframe, carbureted 180HP, with a 2020 ADS-B Glass Deck, INTERCOM, simple interior, white, no decals, a bunch of USB receptacles, 30-42b Gal. fuel cap, 2300# MTOW FOR $130K.

It is all so simple.

Posted by: Rafael Sierra | August 7, 2014 8:26 AM    Report this comment

Jim ... when I addressed the Administrator regarding the status of the FAR Part 23 Rewrite (Congressionally mandated by their current funding law), more specifically, the Primary Non-Commercial (PNC) subset, I got no answer. That said, the crowd clapped loudly ... signifying that they were ready for legacy aircraft to be allowed to install non-TSO'ed but aircraft quality equipment in them. The idea that ALL type certificated aircraft must be maintained like mini-airliners is ludicrous ... and is part of the problem.

On the one hand, the FAA purports to be interested in "safety" ... to the exclusion of all else ... and then disallows equipment which could potentially save lives and make flying safer. Nutty!

With respect to engines, I have a factory brand new O-320-D engine in my C172 which cost me $13.5K in the early 90's. Then comes the law -- can't remember the name -- which allowed Cessna, et al, to go back into production and limit liability and now a new like engine costs $39K. THAT's the problem.

Posted by: Larry Stencel | August 7, 2014 10:40 AM    Report this comment

"We have all the engines, propellers and avionics needed." Politely, I disagree - at least with regard to avionics. Light GA NEEDS a $10k "magic box" solution that almost everyone could justify. I certainly can't justify spending four times what my airframe is worth, just to get a 21st century instrument panel. Folks, this is electronics - an area I know all too well. Somebody could ship a quarter of a million $10k boxes. That's two and a half billion dollars of revenue on a product whose manufacturing costs would be about $1k per unit. Sounds like a reasonable investment, to me.

Posted by: Thomas Yarsley | August 7, 2014 11:02 AM    Report this comment

Thomas--a $10000 black box already exists--and is installed and flying IFR in a number of homebuilts. Check the link for Dynon Skyview. http://www.dynonavionics.com/docs/EFIS_intro.html Manufacturers suggested retail price is $3995. A Dynon transponder is $2200.

Put together your own system from this list http://pricing.dynonavionics.com/

They play well with Tru-Track non-certified autopilots as well.

It has always amazed me that the FAA won't let these boxes be installed in certified aircraft, but they have an excellent track record in homebuilts--flying side by side with the certified units in the very same airspace and the very same weather.

These are suggested retail prices--they can be bought cheaper. I'm sure that with a volume purchase, the cost would be even lower.

Posted by: jim hanson | August 7, 2014 11:54 AM    Report this comment

I would make a plug-in (Unitized Assembly) of TSOed instruments in a panel of my choice and couple a FreeFlight Systems or equal. The airframe should be wired ready to connect to avionics and other systems.

Posted by: Rafael Sierra | August 7, 2014 12:15 PM    Report this comment

"Somebody could ship a quarter of a million $10k boxes."

Yars, this is a classic GA business plan doomed to failure. The potential volume is over estimated by a considerable factor and my guess is five. I'd believe 50,000 boxes at that price in 10 years. As Jim points out, Dynon already has it. Pipistrel is using that very box in the Panthera.

Still, there's a helluva business even at those numbers. I think it unlikely that Cessna will get into remanufacture because Textron management is allergic to liability and probably would not accept 10 or 15 percent gross margins, if that's what it took. Depends on what kind of legs overall refurb market has. I think it will be strong, but not gangbusters.

Posted by: Paul Bertorelli | August 7, 2014 12:26 PM    Report this comment

Larry--the same question "Now that the logjam for simple AOAs has been broken, is there a pathway for simplified non-TSO avionics" was raised in the media briefing. I recorded it. Huerta's rather lengthy non-response can be distilled into these comments:

"This has got to be a high priority for us." "The question is how do we manage risk?" "How would we best attack the question?" "With legacy systems, we had black and white--now we are having to interpret shades of gray." "We have a great team here working very hard." "We have to be willing to push the edges....." "How can we best show progress?" "We have to find a way to do it with the industry for better results and higher safety."

Out of all of these platitudes, not one actual comment on the original question of "is there a pathway for simplified non-TSO avionics"--only the non-answers.

From his comments, I believe that FAA HAS been getting pressure for non-TSO avionics--but hasn't figured out how to allow them without jeopardizing the certified avionics companies products--and putting the lie to the FAA certification process itself.

I think it will happen--they just can't make the case that non-TSO products don't work--people have been flying Dynons and other manufacturers for years--as well as all of the portable Garmins (even installed in the panel). Even mainstream manufacturers like Garmin are producing and selling non-TSO avionics for homebuilts and LSAs. The FAA is searching for a way to remain relevant.

Posted by: jim hanson | August 7, 2014 12:29 PM    Report this comment

No GA, no commercial aviation, very little FAA, very little everything else. Force the issue! We have two to four years to get this done.

Posted by: Rafael Sierra | August 7, 2014 12:42 PM    Report this comment

It will be interesting to see what Cessna (Textron) will do. They are already involved in remanufacturing with the Beechjet, and the Hawker will be factory supported. Paul is correct by saying that Cessna is risk-averse--if you own a Citation with modifications, the Citation Service Centers often will refuse to work on them--but if the Beechjet experience goes as well as it seems to be doing, Textron may change that.

I don't see the product liability risk for Cessna. Liability is based on the number of units in the field. If you take an older unit out of the mix--remanufacture it (and including modern equipment and updates (like full seat harnesses or Amsafe belts) and put it back out there, the exposure based on the number of units stays the same--and the safety improvements made in the process should CUT risk.

One of the problems for manufacturers is that they often have to compete with their old products--and those old products are often substantially the same as the new. As the Beech Nextant program has proved, there is a big market for "good as new" products rather than "new"--especially if it is a "factory" product. With aircraft engines, very few owners buy "new" engines--but those looking for a quality product usually buy "factory remans" at a substantial savings from the new cost--even though a quality overhaul can be had for less. There's just something that appeals for a product that has gone down the factory line.

Cessna has set the cost of the new diesel Skyhawk at $429,000. Redbird offers the same thing at $249,000. If the Redbird offering gains traction, look for Cessna to offer a FACTORY rebuild at a $100,000 discount--$329,000, or $909,000 more than Redbird--and I believe there will be takers. That should still leave Cessna with a substantial margin.

Posted by: jim hanson | August 7, 2014 12:49 PM    Report this comment

The goal is 20,000 4-place airframes plus components for worldwide sales at less than $130k in a 2 to 4 year period. This would be a one shot deal with hard financial commitments from all.

Cessna may be interested as it is a good way to revitalize the industry. They have empty hangars and all that is needed to start production as if it were to be wartime. Piper and other international OEMs are welcome to submit their bids. "Ask and it will be given to you" Mathew 7:7 or better yet "If it don't fit get a bigger hammer" Rafael 8:7

In researching ideas very little money is spent.

Posted by: Rafael Sierra | August 7, 2014 12:57 PM    Report this comment

$100,000 discount--$329,000, or $909,000 more than Redbird

I think you meant $80,000 more than Redbird. Although we both know Textron would love to get a $909,000 margin on a Skyhawk, if they could just figure out a way.

Posted by: Paul Bertorelli | August 7, 2014 12:59 PM    Report this comment

Jim and Paul:

The "magic box" to which I refer has been described (by me and others) in this space, previously. It would include EFIS with synthetic VFR/HITS, WAAS-Nav, Com, ADS-B in/out, Mode-S transponder, ELT, and EICAS. To my knowledge, such a box does not yet exist. But it could.

Regarding the question of "how many?," consider the number of light GA aircraft that have not yet been equipped to meet the 2020 requirement for ADS-B capability. A "magic box" solution such as I have described would be far les costly than the combination of existing boxes that would be required for the majority of such aircraft which presently are equipped with little more than VHF Nav-Com(s) and a Mode-A transponder.

Last, please remember that most of the low-price equipment out there - including the cited Dynon stuff - is not certified for use in non-experimental or LSA vehicles. Consequently, it wouldn't matter if the stuff was FREE - it can't be used in the vast majority of the fleet (under current rules).

I've talked with a boatload of owners whose position is that, unless they can comply with the rules for $15k or less, they'll park their planes and take up knitting. I believe them.

Posted by: Thomas Yarsley | August 7, 2014 2:28 PM    Report this comment

I think that Cessna has no real interest in selling anything smaller/cheaper than a Caravan.

Posted by: Thomas Yarsley | August 7, 2014 2:32 PM    Report this comment

"I've talked with a boatload of owners whose position is that, unless they can comply with the rules for $15k or less, they'll park their planes and take up knitting. I believe them."

We've heard the same. I think this is going to be a bigger shock to the industry than many are willing to admit.

Posted by: Paul Bertorelli | August 7, 2014 2:58 PM    Report this comment

Cessna is interest in making a profit. Cessna is also aware of the light GA decline. Cessna is an American entity with American workers. Cessna will consider if approached.

Posted by: Rafael Sierra | August 7, 2014 4:16 PM    Report this comment

After brezzing thought the 50+comments here, no wonder why no "SANE" business person would be in the "low end" (recreational segment?) of GA.

Obviously, to those who have been in business (their $$) know that when it comes to government; municipal, country or federal, you decide from day ONE; can I work within, (profitably) the constraints of the law/regulations imposed by (fill in the blank) agency?) weather to go forward or not with this?

A gent mentioned earlier; not for the "common man" any longer - he's RIGHT!

Almost all comments concern are about the technical/regulation aspects (some brilliant, others stupid) rather then asking: WHY so little DEMAND?

Cost (subjective?) Alternatives (ATC, Ski-Doo, Jet Ski, Great Adventure?) Interest? TAKE a good look, Ladies and Gents; changing times and a changing (demographic) market - NEED for those who have it. Want is history! Like Archie Bunker once sang; "those WHERE the days!"

Posted by: Rod Beck | August 7, 2014 4:20 PM    Report this comment

2020 is going to be year of the collapse or the year of recovery. It depends on our efforts or lack of them. Our resources are many, our experience is still the greatest in the world. We are clever, original and inventive. Together we can succeed in revitalizing the recreational and flight instruction industry and its economy.

Posted by: Rafael Sierra | August 7, 2014 4:24 PM    Report this comment

Hi Rafy; well stated - "Cessna is interested in making a profit"?

AND that's WHY they paid more attention/concentration to the Citation line and "ignored" the piston market . good business, ANY business, is about profitability - nothing more - nothing less!

Posted by: Rod Beck | August 7, 2014 4:27 PM    Report this comment

Thomas--here is the equipment and prices from Dynon. I spec'd out what you asked for..from the price list previously provided. Sorry--the tabs didn't copy over.

Part ID Name Qty Cost

SV-D1000 SV-D1000 10" SkyView Display Bundle 1 $3,600.00 SV-EMS-220 1st SV-EMS-220 Engine Monitoring Module 1 $600.00 Standard Packages 1 $0.00 EMSKIT-L4C EMSKIT-L4C - Lyc./Cont./Superior, 4-Cyl, Carbureted 1 $700.00 EGT/CHT Wire Harness, 4 cyl, 6' long 1 $75.00 SV32 SV32 Autopilot Servo 1 $750.00 SV32 SV32 Autopilot Servo 1 $750.00 Servo Mounting Kit - RV-6 Roll (Fuselage) 1 $75.00 Servo Mounting Kit - RV-4/8 Pitch 1 $75.00 SV-XPNDR-261 SV-XPNDR-261 Class 1 Mode S Transponder 1 $2,200.00 SV-COM-C25/V Vertical Orientation - SV-COM-C25/V VHF COM Radio, 25 MHz 1 $1,295.00 SV-AP-PANEL/V Vertical Orientation - SV-AP-PANEL/V Autopilot Control Panel 1 $550.00 SV-KNOB-PANEL/H Horizontal Orientation - SV-KNOB-PANEL/H Knob Control Panel 1 $250.00

$10,920.00

It includes the radios, the mounts, the harnesses, the cockpit control knobs. The transponder is Mode S compliant. There is a WAAS receiver for ADs B in/out. It will receive traffic. There are two separate servo's listed for roll and pitch.

Dynon does not have its own ADDs B in/out yet, but freedom flight is $3995.

Since I was going through the exercise, I DID include an autopilot--with altitude hold and approach couplers. It does include engine controls

The manufacturers suggested retail price comes to $10,920. You could cut that a bit by eliminating synthetic vision.

Posted by: jim hanson | August 7, 2014 5:20 PM    Report this comment

If NextGen has all the cost savings FAA touts, they could afford to make grants available to airplane owners instead of making them carry the whole load--after all, the government makes all kinds of grants for solar power, wind farms, alcohol subsidies, etc.

While that might be wishful thinking, the 2012 FAA reauthorization bill DOES have a provision for low-cost loans to help aircraft owners. From the July 29 edition of AIN magazine--regarding a letter sent to Huerta from House Aviation Subcommittee Co-Chair Sam Graves:

"In a letter to Huerta, Graves reiterated that the 2012 FAA reauthorization bill gave the agency the "authority to, via a partnership with a private intermediary, provide loan guarantees of up to 90 percent of the principal amount...to assist commercial and general aviation aircraft seeking to purchase and install the necessary equipment."

Huerta says they can't change the law "overnight"--or in the case of the Part 23 rewrite, within its own 2-year deadline--but in this case, Congress has already authorized the aid to aircraft owners. Even though authorized by Congress TWO YEARS ago, the FAA can't even put together the program to hand out the money. Normally, the government has no problem in handing out money. (sarcasm)

Maybe they could find the money by laying off some of those 47,000 "hard-working FAA employees."

Posted by: jim hanson | August 7, 2014 5:44 PM    Report this comment

Jim, Respectfully; wasn't it a Captain Smith who went down with his ship - hint???

Posted by: Rod Beck | August 7, 2014 6:55 PM    Report this comment

Jim:

Nice work; lots of boxes, at low prices; key questions:

1. Are all of the listed SKUs FAA certified (i.e.: TSOd or STCd)? 2. What's your guess regarding the installation costs in, for example, a C-172? Full tear-out; re-wire; install, test, and sign-off?

-YARS

Posted by: Thomas Yarsley | August 8, 2014 6:48 AM    Report this comment

No--NONE of the boxes are "approved" by the FAA--they can only be installed in Experimental or LSA aircraft at this time, not "certificated" airplanes. They do meet FCC specs, however, and thousands of them--many being flown IFR every day.

And that's the issue--reliable and proven products at a price a fraction of "FAA-approved" products--good for many aircraft--denied to "certified" aircraft. All FAA has to do is change their own rules to stop "protecting" us--they literally have "protected" aviation to death.

Traditional manufacturers like Garmin are also entering this market--at competitive prices--but again, only for Experimental and LSA aircraft.

Posted by: jim hanson | August 8, 2014 11:11 AM    Report this comment

Rod Beck--"

Jim, Respectfully; wasn't it a Captain Smith who went down with his ship - hint??? "

Yes--the Captain's name was Smith. He made the error of proceeding at full speed through an iceberg field.

Those of us who have first-hand knowledge of the carnage that FAA has wreaked upon the industry aren't advocating charging into the FAA icebergs. We understand that they are a hazard to be avoided at all costs--we advocate going around them--avoiding them--and warning others of the danger.

Unlike Capt. Smith, we have electronics to avoid the iceberg--IF the government agency (analogous to the FAA) will allow us to use them.

To continue with your iceberg analogy--the disaster could have been mitigated, IF the other ships in the area (Carpathia) had come to the aid, instead of standing idly by.

Unlike Capt. Smith's day, there was no warning about the danger icebergs (the FAA) posed. Today, the International Ice Patrol (analogous to EAA, AOPA, and all of the other "Alphabet" organizations) warn us about the danger so we can avoid them.

A final iceberg analogy also fits--the FAA (like the iceberg) LOOKS harmless and pure, but represents one of the greatest dangers to mariners. Like the FAA, the vast majority of the danger is hidden from view, and like government in general, it is virtually an immovable object--best avoided, but ignored at your peril.

Posted by: jim hanson | August 8, 2014 11:28 AM    Report this comment

Just to refresh your Titanic history, Jim, it was Carpathia that did speed to the rescue. Californian, commanded by the hapless Stanley Lord, was the ship that stood by watching the white rocket show on the horizon.

The iceberg analogy is apt, however. Most of it is hidden beneath the surface.

Posted by: Paul Bertorelli | August 8, 2014 1:28 PM    Report this comment

Jim:

Fine work being done by Dynon, but NON-EXPERIMENTAL light GA vehicles need a <$10k "magic box" solution. We either need a new (certified) box, or we need new rules that would allow us to install the experimental stuff. If we don't get that by 2020, a whole lotta Wichita Spam cans are going to become Coke cans.

BTW, which Dynon SKUs include the WAAS GPS receiver, and the VOR/LOC/GS receivers? It wasn't obvious to me on their website.

-YARS

Posted by: Thomas Yarsley | August 8, 2014 2:32 PM    Report this comment

YARS--that was my point--the EQUIPMENT exists--it is being used every day--we just have to get the FAA to pay attention and get out of the way.

It's in the Skyview MFD--look in the upper left corner. http://www.dynonavionics.com/

Posted by: jim hanson | August 8, 2014 4:35 PM    Report this comment

Paul--you are correct--you know your history!

Carpathia WAS the rescue ship--though if she had received the SOS from Titanic directly instead of having it relayed later through Cape Race, it may have made a difference.

Posted by: jim hanson | August 9, 2014 3:10 PM    Report this comment

Yars, the CS23 revision is supposed to address the very point you are making. Once the rules are promulgated, it would theoretically allow the installation of equipment like the Skyview in certified aircraft.

By the time the rules are in place, I imagine there will be an entire new generation of equipment to meet the need, both from Dynon and Garmin. At least that's the promise. Two airplanes being certified anticipate these rules. The Flight Design C4, promised at about $250,000 for a four-place airplane similar to a 172 and the Pipistrel Panthera, at about $625,000.

The Panthera's price doesn't seem to benefit much from the simpler rules, but the C4 does. We'll see what happens, but I remain skeptical CS23 will do what's promised.

Posted by: Paul Bertorelli | August 10, 2014 7:09 AM    Report this comment

"...I remain skeptical CS23 will do what's promised." Sadly, I agree.

Posted by: Thomas Yarsley | August 10, 2014 11:18 AM    Report this comment

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