February 11, 2004
By The AVweb Editorial Staff
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Last year, 1,519 new single-engine piston airplanes were sold in the U.S., an 11.2 percent jump over the year before, the General Aviation Manufacturer's Association (GAMA) reported yesterday in its year-end report. Worldwide, the growth was even stronger, 14 percent over 2002, or 1,825 new singles. The positive growth, especially in the fourth quarter, "is an early indicator of a broader turnaround in all segments of general aviation," GAMA Chairman Clay Jones said yesterday in a news release. Manufacturers believe a provision in last year's tax bill, commonly known as "bonus depreciation," stimulated many of last year's aircraft orders, Jones said. (For more about bonus depreciation, see yesterday's BusinessAVflash.) The strong growth in the piston-engine market largely offset a decline in shipments of turboprop airplanes and business jets, keeping total industry shipments essentially unchanged from the previous year, at 2,686 units, GAMA said. Total industry billings, however, declined 15.5 percent to $9.99 billion.
Cessna led the pack, delivering 588 single-engine piston planes, plus 67 of its Caravan turboprops; and Cirrus Design was close behind with 469 sales. Diamond came in third, delivering 228 of its DA20 and DA40 models. New Piper completed 185 single-engine deliveries plus 44 sales of light twins. Raytheon sold 55 Beech Bonanzas plus 107 light twins, Socata sold 74 from its single-engine line, and American Champion sold 63 from its stable of light aerobatic and utility aircraft. Lancair sold 51 Columbias, and other U.S. manufacturers coming in at under 50 sales for the year were Aviat, 47; Mooney, 36; Maule, 32; OMF, 19; and Tiger, 18. GAMA also listed for the first time this year Australia's Gippsland Aeronautics, which sold 19 of its hefty single-engine AirVans, and Pacific Aerospace of New Zealand, which sold two PAC 750XLs (one of which was lost in a ditching before delivery). GAMA President Ed Bolen also noted that the student population rose by 1.5 percent last year, a figure he called "impressive" considering the weak economy and the war. Bolen credited BE A PILOT's work for the rise.
ADDITIONAL FEATURES ON THE LIGHTSPEED QRF SOLO SS
If you want to do your part for GA growth, there are plenty of airplanes out there ready for a new owner. Lake's four-place amphibian, the LA-4-200 EP, first built in 1983, has been revived by LanShe Aerospace of Fort Pierce, Fla. LanShe is now taking orders at a price of $299,000. The production line is ready to go, company President Wadi Rahim told AVweb on Tuesday, with certification and manufacturing tools all in place. "We're in good shape. We just need some orders," he said. LanShe bought the Lake Aircraft Company in 2002, and also bought the Micco line last April. "It's an active line," Rahim said of the Micco models. "We've built two, one is sold, and we have three or four in progress. We're ready to make more." In December, the company delivered its first Lake-250 to the Galapagos Islands, where it will be flown for maritime patrol. Rahim said he plans to bring at least one new Lake and one new Micco to show at Sun n' Fun in Florida in April. The EP carries an IO-360 engine and can lift a useful load of about 920 pounds. Keelson boosters on the hull and wing-root fillets ("bat wings") boost the EP's hydrodynamic and aerodynamic performance, according to the company's press release.
Following the lead of Cirrus, Diamond and Cessna, Mooney announced this week that buyers will soon have the option of equipping new Ovations and Bravos with Garmins G1000 primary flight display system. But unlike Cirrus, Mooney says it will also retain the steam-gauge option for owners who arent ready for the brave new world of glass-panel flying. The G1000 integrates primary flight instruments, navigation and communication into a pair a 10.4-inch, high-resolution XGA displays, with the nav/comm boxes themselves remoted to another part of the aircraft. Mooney says the overall panel size in its new aircraft will remain roughly the same, requiring only about 1/2 inch of additional height over the existing models. As per FAA certification requirements, the PFD-equipped aircraft will have full-size, self-contained back-up artificial horizons and airspeed indicators on the far right of the instrument panel for emergency reversion. Mooney will use a new electric attitude gyro from Mid-Continent Instruments, which is equipped with its own emergency battery pack. As with Diamond and Cessna, the cost premium of a G1000-equipped airplane will be a small fraction of the new aircrafts total cost. The Ovation GX --the designation for G1000 equipped airplanes -- will sell for $409,950 while the turbocharged Bravo GX will sell for $459,950. These prices are about $20,000 higher than the "classic" models equipped with conventional instrumentation. The G1000-equipped aircraft will be available later this year.
A BRAND NEW AIRCRAFT FOR THE COST OF A SECOND CAR!
The FAA hosted a conference this week in Washington, D.C., to work on ways to help facilitate the first privately launched manned space flight, which industry experts expect may be attempted within the year. Panels were held Tuesday and yesterday to discuss new developments in propulsion, system safety and other topics. Meanwhile, a bill now working its way through Congress, the Commercial Space Launch Amendments Act of 2004, recently made it past the House Science Committee, and should help to address some of the regulatory issues. The legislation confirms that the FAA's Office of Commercial Space Transportation (AST) has sole authority over suborbital vehicles. The bill would also make it easier to launch new types of reusable suborbital rockets by allowing the AST to issue experimental permits that can be granted more quickly and with fewer requirements than licenses, and would establish some guidelines regarding liability. Twenty-seven teams from seven nations have joined the competition for the $10 million X PRIZE, which aims to promote space travel for the masses. Scaled Composites and Armadillo Aerospace are seen as likely contenders to launch this year, though Armadillo said this week it is having trouble with its engines.
Department of Transportation Secretary Norm Mineta visited Mitchell International Airport in Milwaukee on Monday to officially unveil the FAA's new runway-safety technology, installed there last fall, which helps controllers spot potential collisions on the ground. The Airport Surface Detection Equipment Model-X (ASDE-X) creates an up-to-the-minute map of all airport operations, and is especially useful when visibility is poor. Mineta said the administration's budget this year will support $3.3 billion for airport improvements, as well as $700 million in Airport Improvement Program funds for investments in new technologies and runways. The National Air Traffic Controllers Association (NATCA) painted Mineta's remarks as evidence of a "widening credibility gap." The administration's proposed budget for the next fiscal year, which starts Oct. 1, cuts the FAA's modernization budget by $400 million, or 16 percent, NATCA said in a news release. "How is it possible to expect the country's airports, like General Mitchell International Airport, to handle a threefold increase in traffic, as proposed by Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta, while at the same time the administration is cutting the FAA's modernization budget by 16 percent?" said NATCA President John Carr, in a news release. "We need to accelerate the modernization process and ensure we have enough qualified air traffic controllers ready to meet the Secretary's goals, not budget cutbacks. We need actions, not contradictions," Carr said. Mineta conceded the budget was being cut but said the FAA could still keep ASDE-X on track by slowing down other projects with lower priorities. This year, ASDE-X will be deployed at Orlando; St. Louis; Charlotte, N.C.; and Providence, R.I., with 12 more installations planned in fiscal year 2005.
DICK KEYT COUNTS ON OREGON AERO FOR PAIN-FREE COMPETITIVE FLYING
The FAA needs to issue a new rule that would ensure applicants for a Part 145 repair station certificate have not previously been associated with a repair station that had its certificate revoked, the NTSB said on Monday. The recommendation is based on the NTSB's investigation into the crash of a Beech 95 Travelair in California in January 2003, in which a 2 1/2-foot section of a propeller blade separated from the right engine shortly after takeoff. The airplane rolled inverted and hit a house, killing the pilot. All four of the Travelair's propeller blades appear to have been improperly overhauled, the NTSB said, and the owner of the repair station that did the work had been chief inspector at a repair station that had its certificate revoked in 1998 for performing improper overhauls on aircraft propellers. The NTSB is also concerned that if a shop owner surrenders their certificate -- thereby bringing to an end the FAA's investigation and avoiding revocation -- that individual could then move to a new area and apply to a new FSDO, and no record would be found of the prior facts. The NTSB recommends that in such cases, the FAA should complete its investigation to ensure that the facts are documented and are available to regulators when considering the fitness of an applicant.
In the world of building new airplanes, real time frames never seem to quite match projections, but the work plods forward nonetheless. When last we heard from Adam Aircraft, they were expecting to certify and deliver their new centerline-thrust twin, the A500, in the first quarter of this year, so we called for an update. "Things are progressing well here," Adam Aircraft spokesman John Hamilton told AVweb on Tuesday. "We're confident that we'll have certification of the A500 and first delivery in the first half of this year." So scratch spring, and hope for summer. In April, Adam will be at Sun 'n Fun in Florida with an A500 to show, Hamilton said, and will also exhibit its A700 light jet. The company is working on the two projects in parallel, he said, and plans to start building A700 Ship Two, the conforming prototype, in about a month. "We've flown about 100 hours of flight testing on Ship One, and it's in Florida now, at Eglin Air Force Base, for engine-icing tests. When it gets back, we'll start pressurizing the cabin and taking it to higher altitudes," he said. So far, the jet has not flown above 25,000 feet or so, he said. Engineers are also working on detailed designs of all the systems for implementation in the second ship. Certification of the jet's Williams FJ33 engine is "imminent," Hamilton said. That's been imminent for a while now, but Hamilton said he couldn't be more specific. "The engines will be ready well in advance of the airplane," he said, and that's all that really matters. The jet certification might follow by the end of this year -- but stay tuned for updates.
UPDATE YOUR FLIGHT BAG WITH AN ASA FLIGHT TIMER!
Washington State's first aviation-themed public high school, Aviation High School, will open its doors this fall, thank$ in part to a gift from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The school is expected to become "a state and national model," according to its organizers, thanks to its focus on high standards for student achievement. The school's goals include sending 100 percent of its graduates on to postsecondary education, preparing them thoroughly to be competitive in aviation careers, and encouraging parent participation, mentoring and industry support. The school's location has not yet been selected, but it will be in Puget Sound's Highline School District, near Seattle-Tacoma International Airport and Boeing Field. In its first year, the school will accept about 100 students, and grow to about 400 over four years. The school has won a four-year, $600,000 grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The funding will be used to provide planning resources for the development of new schools, professional development, materials and resources for teachers, and the acquisition and integration of technology tools in teaching and learning. "This grant offers us the opportunity to develop a high-performing thematic high school where students interested in aerospace are exposed to an academically rigorous curriculum that will effectively prepare them for college," said John Welch, deputy superintendent of Highline Public Schools. "We will leverage the foundation's commitment to pursue partnerships with other grantees and the local aviation industry." Nationwide, 61 aviation high schools are now training students.
Chicago's O'Hare International Airport has a bad case of gridlock, but the plan to fix it with two new runways keeps developing convolutions of its own, growing more and more expensive. Originally proposed as a $6.6 billion plan in 2001, the expansion now includes two new terminals and upgrades around the field, for a total price tag of $14.8 billion, the Chicago Tribune reported Sunday. Critics said the price inflation only proves the plan is not feasible. "I still believe the city's figures ... are on the low side," Joseph Del Balzo, a consultant hired by local groups that oppose the expansion, told the Tribune. The airport plan is slated to be complete by 2013, enabling O'Hare to handle 1.6 million flights a year.
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When Flight 93 crashed into a Pennsylvania field on Sept. 11, 2001, 40 lives were lost, but on Sunday, one pilot's dream came true. Sandra Dahl, the widow of First Officer Jason Dahl, climbed into an F-16 fighter jet in Colorado and took a 45-minute ride, looping, rolling, pulling Gs, and experiencing all the joys that her husband had wished for. Jason Dahl loved the F-16, and always regretted that he let his 25th birthday pass without trying out for Air Force wings, his widow said. Sandra Dahl carried a picture of her late husband, spotted places they had traveled on vacation and flew over the home they had shared together. "I just wanted to do it to be in spirit with Jason and complete something he didn't get to do. I felt his presence," Dahl told reporters after the flight. "I just completed something he always wanted to do."
The FAA agrees to investigate AOPA's complaint against Chicago for closing Meigs Field without notice...
EAA announced this summer's schedule for kids' Air Academy and adults' Fantasy Flight Camp at Oshkosh...
Light-jet contender Safire Aircraft unveiled enhanced new Web site...
Aircraft accidents in Alaska fell by 14 percent last year, according to an FAA report. There were 94 general aviation accidents, down from 97 the year before...
Pilot accused of drunken flying argued in court that only the FAA has jurisdiction over his flying, and the state cannot prosecute him on criminal charges...
A pilot for American Airlines startled passengers Friday morning when he asked for a show of hands of Christians, and suggested that travelers use their time aloft to discuss their religious beliefs.
"IT'S LIKE HAVING A NEW AIRPLANE"
What's New -- Products and Services
Each month, AVweb will bring you a quick survey of the latest products and services for pilots, mechanics and aircraft owners. This month we have engine monitoring software, a flight planning book, CD-ROMs with worldwide approach charts and more. If you know of a new product or service other AVweb readers should hear about, please send us a note.
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BENNETT AVIONICS: UPGRADE YOUR AIRCRAFT WITH CONFIDENCE & SAVINGS
*** PREVIOUS RESULTS ***
Last week, we polled AVweb readers about the missing funds that were supposed to be allocated to General Aviation in the wake of 9/11. Almost 40% of you thought the government pulled the rug out from under legitimate businesses, but another 33% said simply that it was "business as usual" in Washington.
*** THIS WEEK'S QUESTION ***
This week, we would like to know your thoughts on the GA economy.
The General Aviation Manufacturer's Association (GAMA) said recently in a news release that positive growth in GA aircraft deliveries, especially in the fourth quarter, "is an early indicator of a broader turnaround in all segments of general aviation." Manufacturers believe a provision in last year's tax bill, commonly known as "bonus depreciation," stimulated many of last year's aircraft orders, Jones said. What do you think the statistical upturn means?
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|"TEST DRIVE" A B-737/300 AT CONTINENTAL'S IAH PILOT TRAINING CENTER!|
The "Airline Training Orientation Program" (ATOP) is a two-day 737/300 familiarization course designed for any U.S. pilot, especially those interested in airline careers. Presented exclusively by ATOP Inc., the course features 12 hours of ground school, one hour in the 737/300 FTD, and two hours in the 737/300 full-motion simulator. Earn the optional "High Altitude Endorsement," too! Register for any class by March 1 and get a $40 discount off the $435.00 course fee by mentioning AVweb! For details, go online at http://www.avweb.com/sponsors/atop/avflash.
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"Twin Beech TP'ed"
Mike Benson of Broadhead, WI tells us over 240 rolls of toilet paper were used on this B18!
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AVweb continues to receive a large number of excellent images for our POTW contest. Here are some of the runners-up. Click on the links below to view a larger version.
Ron Bull's seaplane waits to be taken out in Jupiter, FL
Patty Wagstaff's signature maneuver, captured by John Longo of Suffolk, VA
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PILOT'S AUDIO UPDATE
Cassette tapes to help you be a better pilot such as "Are You Ready for an Emergency," "Managing Your Fuel Supply," "Getting the Most Out of ATC," and more are available now. Order your selections today at http://www.avweb.com/sponsors/avconsumer/paut/avflash.
DON'T LOOK ANY FURTHER FOR THE PERFECT GIFT!
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SPORT YOUR NEW LEATHER FLIGHT BAG FROM PILOTMALL AND SHOW YOUR STYLE!
PilotMall.com has real leather flight bags that are second to none. Plus, there's a backpack model! Go online to order at http://www.avweb.com/sponsors/pilotmall/avflash.
FIRST WORLD FLIGHT: THE ODYSEY OF BILLY MITCHELL IS A MUST-READ!
Three years before Lindbergh's flight to Paris, the U.S. Army joined the race to be the first to fly around the world. Many countries had tried. All had failed. Most pilots had died. Could the United States capture aviation's greatest prize? This hardcover book by Spencer Lane tells it all in great detail. Special autographed copies are available for AVweb subscribers only at http://www.avweb.com/sponsors/firstworldflight/avflash.
THE MARCH ISSUE OF AVIATION CONSUMER IS RIGHT UP A CONSUMER'S ALLEY
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CARBON MONOXIDE KILLS! SAFETY IS CO GUARDIAN'S CARBON MONOXIDE DETECTOR
CO Guardian has models from portable units to panel-mount units. Each unit's solid-state sensors and temperature sensors (EMI-shielded to prevent radio interference) are built in the USA and FAA-certified. Go online to find the CO Guardian model right for your aircraft at http://www.avweb.com/sponsors/cog/avflash.
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