AVwebFlash Complete Issue: Volume 13, Number 40c

October 5, 2007

By The AVweb Editorial Staff
Legendary Aircraft, Revolutionary Engine
In a diesel-equipped Skyhawk, you'll burn 30% less fuel per hour. And because the power plant burns Jet A instead of pricier avgas, you'll save even more on direct operating costs. What's more, this remarkable Thielert engine operates at 2,300 rpm (vs. 2,400 in a standard model), significantly reducing cabin noise levels. Go online for more information.

» Visit Cessna Aircraft in booth 803 at the AOPA Expo
Cessna's Big Day at AOPA Expo back to top 

Cessna to Offer Diesel Skyhawk

Cessna will offer the 172S Skyhawk with a Thielert turbo diesel engine with deliveries to start in mid-2008. In an announcement at AOPA Expo in Hartford, Conn., Cessna officials said the decision to offer the diesel came after extensive market surveys and flight testing. "The Skyhawk is already the best-selling, most-flown airplane ever with more than 43,000 delivered and this option further expands the market due to the worldwide availability of Jet A fuel," said John Doman, Cessna vice president of propeller aircraft sales. Cessna will install the engines at its Independence, Kan., factory under the supplementary type certificate already held by Thielert.

The engine is a two-liter adaptation of a Daimler automotive diesel that's been re-engineered for aviation use. It's a dual overhead cam, in-line four-cylinder engine that puts out 155 hp. It comes with full authority digital engine control and is turbocharged. The liquid-cooled engine drives a three-bladed, composite constant speed prop. The new designation of the aircraft is the Skyhawk TD. A Cessna news release did not contain pricing information.

Related Content:
AVweb's video team talks with the engineers

Cessna Commits to Bend

The people of Bend, Ore. are likely sighing relief today after Cessna CEO Jack Pelton said the Columbia Aircraft plant will be maintained and there will also be "significant" investment in the company if Cessna is the successful bidder for Columbia's assets. "It will stay in Bend, Ore.," Pelton told a crowded news conference at AOPA Expo in Hartford on Thursday. "That's where the workforce is." Pelton also said Cessna's booming facilities in Kansas are at capacity and there's no room to accommodate Columbia production. Pelton said the intention is to continue production of the existing Columbia line and to ramp up production to 250 airplanes a year. He also hinted the Columbia plant will be involved with future production of the Next Generation Piston line of aircraft but he did not elaborate.

Pelton said he first approached Columbia about buying the company at Sun 'n Fun in 2006 but it wasn't until the Oregon company was on the brink of bankruptcy that he could sign a letter of intent. There are other bidders for the assets but Cessna has to be considered the odds-on favorite.

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» Visit Bose Corporation in booths 538 & 540 at the AOPA Expo
Record Attendance and "Megatrends" back to top 

Hartford Packs 'Em In

This is the first time AOPA Expo has been held in Hartford, and AOPA President Phil Boyer admitted on Thursday morning that there was some concern whether the faithful would flock to this remote corner of the world. "The leaves here aren't like we showed you in all the pictures," he said -- trees remain robustly green and temperatures a summerlike mid-80s, not the crisp New England autumn that many expect to find in October. But he said the attendance numbers on Thursday morning were the highest for any East Coast AOPA Expo ever.

VLJs? Thanks, But We Prefer Citabrias

AOPA Expo opened on Thursday morning with a thousand pilots or so attending a general session on the "megatrend" of owner-flown turbines, introduced by AOPA President Phil Boyer and hosted by AOPA Pilot Editor-in-chief Tom Haines. The crowd listened politely as Cessna CEO Jack Pelton and Matt Huff, of Williams engines, talked up the wonders and virtues of the coming owner-flown turbine fleet. But the one time the audience erupted in spontaneous applause? When Jim Robins, a businessman who "operates" a TBM700 to get to his homes and facilities around the country, mentioned the pure joy of "flying" his vintage Citabria in the early morning amid the Santa Fe mountains. Robins also raised some eyebrows in the crowd when he veered from the industry refrain that turbine aircraft are "easier" to fly than pistons.

"'Simpler' I might buy, but not 'easier," he said. "In addition to flying the airplane, you are operating all the systems. It isn't easy." Robins said he had no problem getting insurance -- though it is expensive -- but advised low-time pilots against making too big of a leap into the turbine environment. Get comfortable with instrument flying and complex aircraft first, he suggested, and work your way up. In the end, all parties agreed with the assessment of Eclipse CEO Vern Raburn, speaking on video: The VLJ is a "slayer of distance and a creator of time -- the ultimate magic carpet."

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» Visit Trade-A-Plane in booths 1021 & 1023 at the AOPA Expo
More New Aircraft Headed to Market back to top 

Piper's New Matrix: A Deflated Mirage

Does the world really need an unpressurized Piper Mirage? Piper thinks it does and at the AOPA Expo show in Hartford this week, it announced the new Matrix which, although technically a new type certificate, is really a variant of the well-established Malibu/Mirage series. Piper CEO Jim Bass told AVweb this week that it believes the Matrix will find a sweet spot in the market because it will sell for an equipped price of $757,000, more that $300,000 less that the price of a new Mirage. Because the airplane lacks a pressure hull, it's less expensive to manufacture and has an empty weight of around 150 pounds less than the Mirage. Bass says this will offer owners high cruise speeds and payloads well into the teens and if an owner wants to venture to the airplane's certificated 25,000-foot ceiling, the Matrix will have an onboard oxygen system.

Bass says the Matrix will compete directly with four-place products from Mooney, Columbia and Cirrus, offering six-place capability and greater range. If you think there's no demand for a $757,000 non-pressurized single, Piper has an answer: it already has 100 firm orders.

Related Content:
Additional comments from Piper's Bass in our exclusive podcast

Diamond Rolls Out Two New DA40-Based Models

It's axiomatic that to survive in the business of general aviation, a manufacturer has to constantly roll out new models or, at the very least, improved versions of the standing product line. Diamond has done both and at this week's AOPA Expo in Hartford, it announced two new variants of the DA40, the XLS and CS. Diamond's Heike Larson told us this week that the XLS is a bit more than a tarted up DA40 with nicer upholstery, although it does have that.

The XLS has a WAAS-capable Garmin G1000, a wider and higher canopy for better visibility and cabin comfort and improved engine monitoring. The DA40 CS might be thought of as an a la carte version of the Star. Its base price is a more affordable $259,000 and customers can then customize it with additional options including interior upgrades, a Garmin GFC 700 autopilot and an extended luggage bin.

The CS is primarily aimed at flight schools but can be an affordable option for individual owners, says Larson.

Related Content:
Hear Larson's comments in our exclusive podcast

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» Visit Pilot Insurance Center (PIC) in booth 245 at the AOPA Expo
News Briefs back to top 

Mooney Acclaim Type S: "Unquestionably the Fastest"

After a year or two of back-and-forth with Columbia Aircraft, with both companies claiming to have the fastest piston single airplane, Mooney now says its Acclaim Type S model will take the top spot, no questions asked. The Pilot's Operating Handbook for the Type S (S is for "speed," of course) will show a 10-knot hike in top speed, to 242 knots, David Copeland, vice president of sales, announced at AOPA Expo in Hartford on Thursday afternoon. The extra knots come from a new Hartzell propeller as well as several "aerodynamic enhancements" that the company is not yet ready to reveal, Copeland said. All current Acclaims from number 50 on up will get these enhancements and earlier models will soon be offered speed-boosting retrofits. The current Acclaim model will continue to be available as well.

Priced at $599,500, deliveries of the Type S are scheduled to commence early next year. "The Type S has benefited from a series of refinements that, by themselves, wouldn't appear to be significant, but taken together, have notably increased performance," Copeland said. He also announced the launch of Mooney Mania, a three-month program offering incentives to current owners who bring in new buyers, plus financing breaks and trade-in assistance. Copeland also said he welcomes the expected takeover of Columbia by Cessna. "That's a positive development," he said. He added that Cessna would be a "worthy adversary" in the high-performance single niche, and he expects they would "correct the misconceptions in Columbia's advertising." He also announced that a devoted Mooney owner will be at the booth here at AOPA Expo on Friday afternoon with his own tattoo artist, to tattoo the Mooney logo over his heart -- "displaying the kind of Mooney passion that all of our owners share." Temporary tattoos, he added, will be available for those who "have to go home and face your spouse."

Aspen Avionics Expands Facility, Adds New Staff

Aspen Avionics has accelerated its relocation plans to accommodate rapid growth, the company announced on Thursday, and has moved into new corporate headquarters almost a year ahead of schedule. The company nearly quadrupled its space, moving from a 6,000-square-foot facility to 23,000-square-foot building in Albuquerque's TechCommons Business Center. The company is in the final stages of certifying its new Evolution Flight Display system and is transitioning from an R&D company to a manufacturing company, with related expansion of customer support, marketing and sales activities. "This is much more than a move or a change of address for us," said Aspen's President and CEO John Uczekaj. "The market's enthusiastic response to our Evolution Flight Display line of products has validated our strategies. The additional space will enable us both to manufacture and ship products faster, and to better support our large and growing number of customers."

The company also announced two new hires. Constantinos S. (Gus) Kyriakos is now Vice President of Engineering.  In this position, he will manage and lead Aspen's growing engineering staff, and work closely with the company's external engineering partners. Mark Ferrari joins the company as Vice President of Sales and Customer Support. He will be responsible for worldwide sales activities and will build customer-care programs to support Aspen's dealer network and aircraft operator customers.

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Photos from the Expo back to top 

AOPA Expo 2007 Gallery


AFSS Is Up to Speed. And Gaining Altitude.
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» Visit Lockheed Martin in booth 203 at the AOPA Expo
Exclusive, Original Video: Cessna's Turbo Diesel back to top 

AOPA Expo 2007 Exclusive Video #3: Cessna's Turbo Diesel Skyhawk

Original, Exclusive Videos from AVweb | Reader-Submitted & Viral Videos

Cessna will offer the 172S Skyhawk with a Thielert turbo diesel engine with deliveries to start in mid-2008. AVweb's Glenn Pew and Paul Bertorelli went straight to the horse's mouth for more info on the diesel Skyhawk, talking with Cessna engineers at the AOPA Expo 2007.

(More on the Cessna Skyhawk Turbo Diesel.)

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» Visit General Aviation Modifications Inc. (GAMI) in booth 1040 at the AOPA Expo
AVweb's Audio News — Are You Listening? back to top 

AVweb's AOPA Expo 2007 Podcast #1: Piper's New Matrix — A Deflated Mirage

File Size 9.3 MB / Running Time 10:10

Podcast Index | How to Listen | Subscribe Via RSS

Back in the 1970s, Cessna introduced an unpressurized version of its popular 340 called the 335. It turned out to be a lukewarm seller. Now, Piper has its own run at offering a non-pressurized high flyer, a new model it calls the Matrix and one that's based on the six-place Mirage. Piper CEO Jim Bass explained the details to AVWeb's Paul Bertorelli.

Click here to listen. (9.3 MB, 10:10)

AVweb's AOPA Expo 2007 Podcast #2: Diamond Rolls Out Two New DA40-Based Models

File Size 7.3 MB / Running Time 7:58

Podcast Index | How to Listen | Subscribe Via RSS

Diamond Aircraft is a company known for innovation. It was the first major manufacturer to offer aerodiesels, and it introduced the first new twin in two decades, the DA42 TwinStar. This week at AOPA Expo, Diamond's Heike Larson gave AVweb's Paul Bertorelli the details on two more new models, both variants of the DA40 Star.

Click here to listen. (7.3 MB, 7:58)

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» Visit Aircraft Shopper Online (ASO) in booths 444 & 446 at the AOPA Expo
Help Us Make the News back to top 

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Names Behind the News back to top 

Meet the AVwebFlash Team

AVwebFlash is a weekly summary of the latest news, articles, products, features, and events featured on AVweb, the internet's aviation magazine and news service.

The AVwebFlash team is:

Timothy Cole

Editorial Director, Aviation Publications
Paul Bertorelli

Russ Niles

Contributing Editors
Mary Grady
Glenn Pew

Features Editor
Kevin Lane-Cummings

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