NewsWire Complete Issue

April 5, 2006
By The AVweb Editorial Staff

What A Difference Two Years Makes
Avidyne FlightMax EX500

Mooney Comes Back With A Vengeance

AVweb's special coverage of the Sun 'n Fun air show in Lakeland, Florida, continues. Watch for more, Friday.

Once the undisputed leader in high performance, Mooney was not too long ago sent to the canvas by that vexing mix of product liability, recession and management unable to overcome the challenges of the day. It soon re-emerged as the bastard child of a promoter's nightmare, and seemed destined to fall again and maybe for good. But now it's back ... Bigtime. Mooney CEO Gretchen Jahn made clear that her team believes Mooney is a manufacturer for the ages and is no longer content to rest on the laurels of 130 speed records and 11,000 aircraft sold. We told you Monday there were rumors of a new Mooney. Tuesday we found out what that meant. Mooney has mated its basic planform with a new engine and says the offspring leaves composite upstarts wallowing in its slipstream. Simply put, if Jahn wasn't reading the glass displays wrong on the way to Sun 'n Fun, the new turbonormalized Mooney Acclaim may soon look to claim title as the fastest certified piston single out there. It may also have the longest legs. Based on the attitude of the Mooney folks who did the highly-theatrical unveiling of what, to all the world, looked like a Bravo with a fancy paint job, it was clear something was up. Mooney staff, looking cool while dressed in black (it felt like 80-degrees in the shade, today), pulled the black cover from the plane to reveal Hahn in the cockpit. It was different, it was fun -- and it was not at all like the reserved atmosphere that has hung over Mooney news conferences for the past five years. We've grown used to the succession of CEOs promising the Mooney of old and failing. This was fresh and there was a tangible essence that it was something special.

236 KTAS, 25,000 feet, 20.6 GPH

Jahn flew the plane from Kerrville, Texas to Lakeland, Florida and told the large crowd of media (and the just plain interested) that those were the numbers she got. She also said that because the plane is a prototype, they expect performance to improve once the 280-hp, Continental TSIO 550G is tweaked to make the most of its new home. The speed is important because it's exactly one knot faster than Columbia Aircraft's posted maximum cruise for its fixed-gear turbo 400 model. AVweb has received several unconfirmable emails from obvious Mooney fans who claim Jahn is actually soft-peddling the performance of the Acclaim and that 250 KTAS is closer to its real enroute speed. Wait for this one to play out. The aerodynamically inclined will tell you that kind of math is very hard (read: unlikely) to achieve. Range predictions are also hard to compare to Columbia, which claims 1,300 nm at max cruise carrying 98 gallons. Mooney says the Acclaim will go 1615 nm with 130 gallons in a long-range package -- but at pulled back to 200kts.

The Acclaim looks very much like a Bravo, except for some rather impressive looking wing tips and the huge cowl openings that keep things cool in front of the firewall while eliminating the need for cowl flaps. The new plane has a full Garmin G1000 package on the panel and leather interior, which fit one of our editor's six-foot three-inch frame just fine, thank you very much. And yes, the Acclaim does come with a built-in oxygen system and the only FAA-approved flight into known icing package in its class, according to Mooney. The price is $495,000. Say bye-bye to the Bravo, Jahn says it's replacement has been found in the Acclaim. Testing, tweaking, and probably some well-deserved gloating will continue through summer. But when it's over (expect sometime in the 3rd quarter of this year) delivery of Mooney's new Acclaim begins.

Piper Digs Out
Bose® Aviation Headset X

Piper Factory Rebuilt, Product Line Getting Makeover

There are fewer more compelling hard-luck stories out there than Piper's recent history. But with "concrete bunkers" to replace its hurricane-ravaged buildings, new airplanes on the way (including -- somewhere in the distance -- the long-awaited jet), a seemingly re-energized de-unionized and united front office and factory floor, and a healthy increase in sales, Jim Bass, the company's new CEO, told a news conference Tuesday at Sun 'n Fun that the death watch for Piper is over. "This is a great American story," he said without a hint of corniness to a jaded press corps that had dutifully covered previous pronouncements of this sort with a healthy dose of skepticism. But Bass, in his "first outing" since taking over the company six months ago, gave some rapid-fire reasons for optimism as he touted his Piper as "the grand old lady of the ball." Piper struggled along with other GA companies after 9/11 but got hammered by circumstances beyond its control that others didn't, at least not to the same extent. The 2003 recall of new Lycoming engines because of potentially faulty crankshafts halted production of some of its best-selling and most profitable lines. Ongoing labor problems plagued the company and at least four hurricanes have hit in the last couple of years.

Getting Back To Basics In Vero Beach

Bass, who replaced the popular Chuck Suma as CEO last fall (there was a bomb scare at the plant on the day of the announcement) said his first priority was to "concentrate on the employees and management." Whatever he did seemed to strike a chord with the workers and last week the National Labor Relations Board accepted a vote to decertify from their union. "We are coming together as one Piper team," the energetic Bass told the news conference. In fact, he repeatedly called the sprawling Vero Beach facilities the "Piper campus" The company is back to full production strength with more than 1,000 employees and sales are up between 25 and 30 percent. As if to hammer the stake through the heart of any remaining doubters Bass added with gusto, "and we're hiring!" A lot of Piper's buildings and infrastructure dated to the 1940s and 1950s and the hurricanes showed no mercy on the elderly structures. Most have been rebuilt or replaced with "hardened" buildings built to withstand future storms. But a few of the older buildings will be demolished to make way for improved ground facilities, like a new ramp. Most importantly, said Bass, production continues at full speed. "There are no restrictions on our capacity to build airplanes," he said.

New Piper Products On The Way?

Bass told the news conference that Piper is revamping its product line. For the past couple of years, the sole topic of news conferences has been the announcement that one or two Piper models was being outfitted with Avidyne Entegra glass cockpits. True to form, Tuesday's press conference started with the announcement that the Seminole, the last(?) of the steam gauge Pipers, was getting glass. But Bass also detailed Piper's aggressive winter recruiting campaign (depicting palm trees on the beach) aimed at attracting engineers and designers from Detroit and Wichita. It seems the next generation of Piper aircraft, needs another thirty design engineers, another 10 manufacturing engineers and some fifty production workers. As for plans for a Piper jet, Bass was matter-of-fact that Piper was developing its strategy for the jet project and wouldn't give any details until he had details to give. In response to the question of how many engines it would have (one like the Cirrus and Diamond "personal jets" or two like the Eclipse and Cessna Mustang) Bass declined comment entirely ... so long as you don't count laughter. "It's taking all the energy I have not to answer your question," he said. It's rumored that Piper has had a plywood mockup of a proposed jet for several years.

News Briefs
PilotWorkshops.com

Airshow Legend Sean D. Tucker OK After Bailout

Details were still sketchy at our deadline, but yesterday morning at about 10:30 Sean D. Tucker was practicing a routine in Red River Parish, La., when the airplane had a problem, and he had to bail out. Expected to fly the Columbia 400 at the Sun 'n Fun this weekend, at least one early report said Tucker "flew out of the Red River Parish Airport to practice his routine for a weekend air show." The same report identified the crash aircraft as "the Challenger Aerobatic Bi-Plane." According to early reports, Tucker experienced a loss of elevator control not long after takeoff. He was able to establish a climb with trim and troubleshoot for about 10 or 15 minutes. Once the decision was made that a safe landing wasn't possible, he "flew until it was empty," according to Karl Koeppen who was quoted by local news as a spokesman for Tucker. The performer abandoned the airplane at about 8,500 feet over an uninhabited area. Tucker's exit wasn't smooth and he momentarily got hung up on the tail of the airplane but freed himself and landed safely under canopy. The airplane was destroyed when it crashed into a cotton field but nobody on the ground was hurt. The landowner witnessed who witnessed the event said, "I just saw the dust when the plane hit ... and a few miles away I saw him parachute down." Tucker regularly flies a his Challenger biplane. He is scheduled to perform at Sun 'n Fun Thursday through Sunday this week and also is scheduled to debut a new routine in a Columbia 400, demonstrating upset recovery techniques. At our deadline, there was not yet confirmation or cancellation regarding his plans to fly this weekend.

A 'New' Navion On The Way

The first "zero-time" Navion to be built in 30 years is expected to be on the grounds at Sun 'n Fun today. According to an email from Navion Aircraft International's Wes Sanda, the plane was to have arrived in Lakeland last night from the factory (yep, that's the right word) in St. Paul, Minn. Details are a little sketchy about the aircraft and we're not sure what the company's definition of "zero time" is since the FAA registry gives the manufacture date of the aircraft as 1947 but we'll track it down today.The type certificate for Navion was purchased in 2002 by Sierra Hotel Aero Inc. and Navion is now described as a division of that company. The Navion was originally built by North American (some of the same engineers involved in the P-51 helped design it) in 1946 and was bought by Ryan Aeronautical in 1947. A succession of owners, all of whom strugged to relaunch the speedy single, progressively gave up and the certificate was in the hands of the American Navion Society for decades.

News Briefs

Evektor's Cobra On Schedule

Somewhat Navion-like but altogether new, the Cobra is a 4/5 place very roomy, very comfortable looking aircraft that may also offer great visibility a 1000nm range and 155kt cruise speeds. Useful load for the 200hp version is 1105 pounds (there's a 315hp version that can carry 1260 lbs at 175kts). Evektor America is billing the all-metal retractable low-wing as a luxurious cruiser with the "widest cabin in its class" (51.1 inches). The Vut 100 Cobra is slated for full FAA Part 23 certification my next summer's (2007) AirVenture, but the company says positions for first U.S. deliveries are available, now. "Deliveries should start early next year, with FAR-23 certification approximately 6 months later," according to the company. If absolute room and comfort are your game, this may be one to watch. For more, see Evektor online

Busy Times At Avidyne

Avidyne Corp. made the most of this week's aviation gathering to announce a slew of new products and services. The company's TAS600 series of Traffic Advisory Systems is now approved for retrofit installation in the Garmin G1000 flight deck. The TAS provides verbal alerts on the position of other transponder-equipped aircraft within a range of up to 21 nm. The TAS is also available in new packages with a multifunction display that incorporates a moving map with lightning, terrain, obstacles, and weather info. The company also announced a new warranty option that will give customers a replacement unit when products are returned for service. And there's more. Avidyne said it's beefing up its customer support with new hires and a bigger inventory to reduce downtime on repairs and exchanges. The company also said New Piper will equip the PA-44 Seminole multi-engine trainer with the Integra flight deck, and both Diamond and Symphony Aircraft will offer the TAS600s as factory options.

News Briefs

Cub Convoy Cute As Can Be

One after another, squeaking onto the runway under the hot Florida sun, a seemingly endless stream of bright yellow Cubs arrived at Sun 'n Fun Monday afternoon. They kept coming.... for half an hour... then another half hour.... and finally, after an hour and a half, all 108 Cubs had landed neatly, and taxied off to park wingtip-to-wingtip on the grass next to the warbird ramp. Cubs have always had their fans, but they seem to be growing ever more popular, with several manufacturers bringing out new designs inspired by the original Piper classic. This week at Sun 'n Fun, American Legend Cub is showing off for the first time its Legend Cub Special, a variant of of its two-place sport aircraft. The Special features leather interior, adjustable pilot air vents, an interior light, and an avionics package with the Garmin SL40 Comm and GTX 327 transponder, a panel-dock-mounted Garmin 396 color moving map GPS, and a PS Engineering intercom. Other standard features of the Special are strobe, Nav, interior and landing lights; an air/oil separator; an oil quick drain; a composite propeller; and large 8.00 x 6 tires. An optional EFIS package includes the new Dynon FlightDEK-D180. The new version also sports a new two-tone paint scheme incorporating a sweeping curve that divides top and bottom of the fuselage. A Legend Cub on floats is spending the week docked at Winter Haven Airport, available for visits and demo flights.

A Full Spectrum Of GPS's -- In Color

Garmin's 396 offers an uber-impressive handheld color moving-map gps in a unit that is terrain-aware, capable of imitating a full panel of flight instruments, and brimming with more features than most average pilots might safely use while attempting to concurrently control an aircraft. An offering for those who tend to shop in another price point entirely (under $500) Lowrance's Airmap 600c brings color and terrain awareness to the less indulgent masses. Shown off at their booth at Sun 'n Fun, the brightly colorful screens of Lowrances latest offerings drew crowds in the middle of the afternoon, on a Tuesday. For those who believe the best isn't always the most capable, but simply what's best for your needs the range of handheld gps offerings is growing fast. Not good enough? How about synthetic vision for your pda? Images We Remember

Image Galleries

Today:
AVweb's Sun 'n Fun Image Gallery, Day 1

Sun 'n Fun Feature: Real World "Air Shows" From Days Past

From 2004:
Thunderbirds Crash -- Truth In Images -- a collection of still and video images.
DHL Airbus Hit By SAM Over Baghdad -- images of the stricken aircraft as it lands.

From 2005
Standard Floats, Dry Runway Departure -- video of a water-only equipped Beaver departing a land base with some creative piloting.

AVweb Audio

AudioCasts

Coming up, Friday: Don't miss the first part of our interview series with FAA administrator Marion Blakey.

Online, now: Hear FAA spokesman Greg Martin in his own words as air traffic control contract negotiations reach new levels of dissonance. Listen to an update on the possibility of user fees for general aviation as Jane Garvey talks to Senators, hear Columbia's plan to stir up the air show this week at Sun 'n Fun; NTSB's call for action as CRJ's show a potential for fire; the passing of The Great Escape pilot, and more. AVweb's latest audio newscast is available today. Click here to listen.

If you missed AVweb's Friday interview with Diamond Aircraft's Peter Mauer, find it online, here.

Subscribe to AVweb audiocasts and receive them automatically, or check this spot each Monday and Friday to download them individually for listening on your iPod, while sitting at your computer, or traveling with any MP3 player.

Your Favorite FBOs

FBO of the Week: Banyan Air Service, Fort Lauderdale

AVweb's "FBO of the Week" contest is sponsored by Aviation Safety magazine, the monthly journal of risk management and accident prevention.

Thanks to all the pilots and AVweb readers who took time to nominate their favorite FBOs in our "FBO of the Week" contest. Today's ribbon finds its target in Florida.

AVweb's "FBO of the Week" ribbon goes to BANYAN AIR SERVICE at FXE in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

Jim Alkire wrote us to say, "WE FLY OUR CESSNA 180 INTO FXE FOR OUR ANNUAL CRUISE VACATION AND HAVE REPEATEDLY RECIEVED OUTSTANDING SERVICE AND PROFESSIONALISM FROM BANYAN. OUR RENTAL CAR IS PULLED UP TO THE PLANE AS THE PROP STOPS. THEIR LINEMEN SEEM GENUINELY HAPPY THAT WE ARE THERE..."

Nominate Your Favorite FBO

Keep those nominations coming. AVweb is actively seeking the best FBO's in the country and another one, submitted by you, will be spotlighted here next Monday!
AVwebBiz

AVweb's Business AVflash

HAVE YOU SIGNED UP yet for AVweb’s NO-COST twice monthly Business AVflash? Reporting on breaking news, Business AVflash also focuses on the companies, the products and the industry leaders that make headlines in the Business of Aviation. Business AVflash is a must read. Watch for a Business AVflash regular feature, TSA WATCH: GA IN THE "SPOTLIGHT". Sign up today at http://www.avweb.com/profile/

Low-Cost Digital Replacement Transponders!
Narco Avionics proudly announces the availability of their all-new Value Series plug & play line of digital transponders. The Value Series is designed for the cost-conscious owner. Narco's Value Series plug & play transponders include the AT165/VS (a replacement for the AT50 through AT155), the AT165/KA/VS (a replacement for the KT76A/78A), and the AT165/K/VS (a replacement for the KT76/78). Coming Soon: Narco's AT165/C and AT165/C/VS, plug & play replacements for the ARC (Cessna) RT359A/RT459A. For more information, visit Narco Avionics online.

   Visit ASA at Sun 'n Fun Booth #B-082 LOW-COST DIGITAL REPLACEMENT TRANSPONDERS! Narco Avionics proudly announces the availability of their all-new Value Series plug & play line of digital transponders. The Value Series is designed for the cost-conscious owner. Narco's Value Series plug & play transponders include the AT165/VS (a replacement for the AT50 through AT155), the AT165/KA/VS (a replacement for the KT76A/78A), and the AT165/K/VS (a replacement for the KT76/78). Coming Soon: Narco's AT165/C and AT165/C/VS, plug & play replacements for the ARC (Cessna) RT359A/RT459A. For more information, go to: http://www.avweb.com/sponsors/narco/flash {* Visit Narco at Sun 'n Fun Booth #B-082 *}NewsTips

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Drop us a line. If it caught your attention, it will probably interest someone else, too. Submit news tips via email to newstips@avweb.com. You're a part of our team ... often, the best part.

Sun 'n Fun 2006 AVWEB APPRECIATES YOUR CONTINUED SUPPORT OF OUR SPONSORS, WHO BRING YOU TODAY'S NEWS AND FEATURES AT NO COST TO YOU

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Plan on Visiting AVweb's Sponsors!

Our sponsors help us bring you the news -- twice a week -- at no cost to you. Please stop by their Sun 'n Fun booths to say "thank you" for their support. Click here for a list of AVweb sponsors attending the show and where to find them.


Stop Wondering -- Or Worrying -- Where Your Friends and Family Are!
Do you have friends or family flying in tonight? A business colleague coming in for a meeting? Will your partner get back before you need the airplane? Find out where in the air they are with the AVweb Edition of Flight Explorer. AVweb subscribers can sign up for Flight Explorer at the special price of $9.95 a month. Sign up.

Light Plane Maintenance Magazine Saves Owners Big Money!
With your subscription to Light Plane Maintenance, you will join thousands of savvy general aviation owners who are saving big by doing it themselves! Each monthly issue brings tips and techniques for maintenance procedures you can perform yourself, legally and easily. Order online for big savings from the regular rates.

Order a CO Guardian CO Detector in the Hope You'll Never Have to Use It!
Models from portable to panel-mount units. Order online.
   Visit CO Guardian at Sun 'n Fun Booth #D-060

Power Flow's Short Stack Approved for Cessnas, Grummans, & Pipers
Power Flow Systems, manufacturers of FAA-certified tuned exhaust systems, has a new "short stack" exhaust pipe for Skyhawks, Cardinals, Piper PA-28s, and Grumman AA5 series aircraft. The new STC'd short stack looks better while still providing up to 23 more available horsepower. For more information on the right tuned exhaust system for your aircraft, visit Power Flow's booth at Sun 'n Fun or go online.
   Visit Power Flow Tuned Exhaust Systems at Sun 'n Fun Booth #A-044

>>> AVWEB APPRECIATES YOUR CONTINUED SUPPORT OF OUR SPONSORS, WHO BRING YOU TODAY'S NEWS AND FEATURES AT NO COST TO YOU ------------------------------------------ ATTENDING SUN 'N FUN THIS WEEK? PLAN ON VISITING AVWEB'S SPONSORS! Our sponsors help us bring you the news -- twice a week -- at no cost to you. Please stop by their Sun 'n Fun booths to say "thank you" for their support. Click here for a list of AVweb sponsors attending the show and where to find them: http://www.avweb.com/sponsors/snf/2006/flash ------------------------------------------ STOP WONDERING -- OR WORRYING -- WHERE YOUR FRIENDS AND FAMILY ARE! Do you have friends or family flying in tonight? A business colleague coming in for a meeting? Will your partner get back before you need the airplane? Find out where in the air they are with the AVweb Edition of Flight Explorer. AVweb subscribers can sign up for Flight Explorer at the special price of $9.95 a month. Sign up here: http://www.avweb.com/sponsors/flightexplorer/flash "LIGHT PLANE MAINTENANCE" MAGAZINE SAVES OWNERS BIG MONEY! With your subscription to "Light Plane Maintenance," you will join thousands of savvy general aviation owners who are saving big by doing it themselves! Each monthly issue brings tips and techniques for maintenance procedures you can perform yourself, legally and easily. Order online for big savings from the regular rates: http://www.avweb.com/sponsors/lpm/flash ORDER A CO GUARDIAN CO DETECTOR IN THE HOPE YOU'LL NEVER HAVE TO USE IT! Models from portable to panel-mount units. Order online: http://www.avweb.com/sponsors/cog/flash {* Visit CO Guardian at Sun 'n Fun Booth #D-060 *} POWER FLOW'S SHORT STACK APPROVED FOR CESSNAS, GRUMMANS, & PIPERS Power Flow Systems, manufacturers of FAA-certified tuned exhaust systems, has a new "short stack" exhaust pipe for Skyhawks, Cardinals, Piper PA-28s, and Grumman AA5 series aircraft. The new STC'd short stack looks better while still providing up to 23 more available horsepower. For more information on the right tuned exhaust system for your aircraft, visit Power Flow's booth at Sun 'n Fun or go online: http://www.avweb.com/sponsors/power/flash {* Visit Power Flow Tuned Exhaust Systems at Sun 'n Fun Booth #A-044 *} Names Behind The News

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