Best Of The Breed

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Best Of The Breed

There Are Those That Stand Out

Every year at Sun 'n Fun the best and the brightest show off their latest. From the tried and true to the leading edge of innovation the show offers the average pilot a rare chance to get face to face with the people behind the companies and hands-on with their products. Through years of Sun 'n Fun coverage, AVweb has developed some great relationships and had the opportunity to get behind the scenes with a few companies that through their pioneering spirit and contributions to the industry really stand out. Whether you can make it to the show or not these sponsors make AVweb's short list for "do not miss"...

Powerflow: Fly Faster, Cheaper, Better

If you're not flying with a Powerflow system you're using more fuel to go slower. Powerflow Systems Inc. believes in their tuned exhaust to the tune of a 100-percent satisfaction money-back guarantee and a long list of satisfied customers. The company offers systems for Cessna, Piper, Grumman and Mooney pilots -- some of which have seen their performance gains equate to an extra 20-plus horsepower flowing from the same engine. In the end the performance improvements add up to better climb, higher and higher cruise speeds or, conversely, lower fuel burn for the same performance their non-tuned exhaust gave them. The company has been around long enough now to have developed a loyal following and the last time we asked, company contacts were happy to supply a list of satisfied customers. Apparently folks are pleased with the extra 20 or so horsepower the systems provide, the cooler-running engine and the increased fuel savings for the same powerplant. To learn more, drop by Powerflow's booth (A-044), drop by their Web site or drop them an email.

PC Avionics: Can't See Outside? You Can Now.

"Yes, you could call it synthetic vision," PC Avionics' Todd Sprague told AVweb as he described features of his company's new MountainScope software package that will be on display at Sun 'n Fun 2003. The software mates highly detailed topographic information with a GPS receiver and will display a virtual "Windshield View" of the world outside, independent of little complications like 1/4-mile real-world visibility. "It currently shows obstacles and runways in the 3D view," Sprague said. Those obstacles include both man-made and natural impediments like, say, radio towers and mountains. Better still, the software uses color coding based on the aircraft's GPS-obtained altitude to let the pilot know which objects present a threat ... don't try to fly over the tower if it's red. Currently, the "Windshield View" feature is reserved for those who will fly with their laptops or the new computer "tablets," but the overhead view is also color-coded and available to a range of Pocket PCs -- products offered by the likes of Compaq/HP, Toshiba and Dell. Depending on your choice of hardware, a complete package with a range of GPS functions plus the MountainScope software can run you less than $1000. Even if you don't think you want one, the innovations offered by this company are eye-opening and worth seeing online, but especially at the show. Look for PC Avionics online, or better still at booth C-026.

Diamond: On The Cutting Edge

For a combined three gallons per hour of Jet A, Diamond Aircraft's DA42 Twin Star will spin two screws and carry four (human beings) at 110 knots. Just to be clear, that's a twin-engine four-seat aircraft with a 2,200-nm range and endurance of 19 hours (from a standard fuel load). It's not an electric/hybrid, you don't have to wind a rubber band ... and April 1 is tomorrow. Sure, most people are used to a little more speed out of their twin but Diamond thought of that, too. At 75-percent power and 10,000 feet the aircraft will do 181 knots on 10.7 gallons per hour (total burn, combined, from both engines). Diamond is aiming for a price of $360,000 and North American deliveries of the Twin Star in mid-2004. Of course, if you prefer 315 kts at 25,000 feet out of your Jet A, Diamond plans to oblige you there as well -- the single engine D-jet currently in the works aims to carry five at that pace on 34 gph. Projected cost for that aircraft is "well under" $1 million. Champagne wishes and caviar dreams aside, Diamond's Katana (see AVweb's review) all but reinvented the trainer market years ago. Subsequent models won the graces of an impressive client roster and 35 of the company's DA20-C1 Falcon aircraft were last year acquired by Embry-Riddle to train as many as 500 Air Force Cadets annually at the Academy in Colorado Springs, Colo. Their models are all new, and it shows. Come see what the next generation of GA looks like: Stop by Diamond's tent (MD-018C) or Web site.

Garmin: Wherever You Go, There You Are

Aside from formidable panel-mounted GPS/comms (like the GNS 430) and datalink-enabled transponder units (the new GTX 330D), Garmin produces WAAS-capable color GPS handhelds that can pinpoint your position within about half a wingspan ... that's usually well within the little airplane icon on the screen. Their latest greatest, the GPSMAP 196 has a 12-level greyscale display and aside from the usual Garmin complement of features including extended runway centerlines and split-screen map/HSI display, the GPSMAP 196 has an automatic logbook that calculates your flight time and automatically records departure and arrival locations. But it gets better ... The unit offers a unique "panel page" that displays HSI, airspeed, GPS-deduced turn-and-bank, altitude and VSI on digitally rendered dials (with pointers). Our sister publication Aviation Consumer has flown with the 196 more than once and found "after dispensing with the disclaimer" that "on a single page, the 196 provides all the data necessary to remain upright and navigate to an airport or waypoint." And for the GPS-derived turn-and-bank, Aviation Consumer found that "Garmin has clearly applied sophisticated software and rapid updating to get this display to work right and it does work right." At Sun 'n Fun you have a chance to meet these products face to face (Garmin is located at D-034-036) and see for yourself. And if you see something that isn't for you, but might be nice for a friend, you can always use the Garmin NavTalk Pilot GPS/cellular telephone to call them up and tell them about it.

LightSPEED: Can You Hear Me Now?

The most popular ANR headsets in the world are made by LightSPEED Aviation. It may be the quiet ... it may be the comfort ... it might have something to do with their trade-up program. Current LightSPEED 20XL owners can have a brand-new Twenty 3G for their old headset plus $200 ... the price of a decent passive noise-reduction headset (similar deals are offered for other models). New features of the Twenty 3G include cellphone interface, music input, side-tone EQ, and more comfort. It retains the old 50 hours of operation on two AAs and the eminently practical automatic shut-off. LightSPEED's booth D-051-053 will have details, headsets and pre-recorded airplane noise. Because sometimes seeing isn't believing ... but hearing is.

Ryan: See (Hear) And Avoid -- TCAS

When you don't know where the other guy is, Ryan International Corporation likely has a product that does. The company's TCAD (Traffic & Collision Alert Device) and Ryan TAS (Traffic Advisory System) will identify the location of other aircraft and present you with their relative distance, altitude, and bearing. If you find yourself frequently too saturated to take note of threats identified by the 20-mile interrogation range of the Ryan TAS 9900BX, it will offer you a verbal warning. The unit offers customizable settings that allow users to tailor the "Air Traffic Shield Area" for optimum effectiveness. There are those who never saw it coming, and those who got out of the way. See why confident pilots fly with Ryan. Drop by their booth D-070-072 to fondle the merchandise or visit them online.

Continental: TCM On Your Biggest Fan

The people at Teledyne Continental Motors (TCM) are not shy on confidence, but they have their reasons. The FAA last year approved Full Authority Digital Engine Controls (FADEC)-equipped TCM models and those engines will be powering the next generation of aircraft, running as standard or optional equipment on the Adam A500, Cirrus SR22, Diamond C-1, Lancair 350 and 400 and Liberty XL-2. As for the rest of the tried-and-true product line the company claims, "WE KNOW WE MAKE THE BEST CYLINDER ON THE MARKET" and is offering a limited-time cylinder rebate offer. Swap out now and save. The FADEC-enabled next-generation powerplants consume up to 15% less fuel and run healthier, cleaner and smoother ... all the time. Stop by their space at Sun 'n Fun (N-093-095, N-100-102) to learn more about the most important part of your airplane, and the people who make it.

Trade-A-Plane: Everything You Need, All The Time

If you're ever looking for anything aviation-related ... aircraft for sale, aircraft for trade, aircraft parts, jobs, avionics, flight training, real estate ... the only thing better than having it in your hands is having Trade-A-Plane online. The yellow publication is one-stop shopping and an industry standard. We've found that whenever we pick up an issue, one of two things will happen. Either we'll find something we need, or we'll find something we didn't know we needed ... usually at a cost we didn't know we could afford. Browse a free copy of the printed version at the Trade-A-Plane booth A-001-003 and don't leave the show without it (in the past there's often been an invitation inside to try their Web site service for a limited time, free -- don't miss out). Trade-A-Plane is general aviation, in print.