Friday, October 29, 2010

Top glass panel maker Dynon just updated its SkyView panels to include air traffic alert and graphic display, just like the TCAS (Traffic Collision Avoidance System) the big boys have...although for many more Grover Clevelands.
Typical Dynon SkyView screen...TCAS symbols not yet available
Traffic targets will show up on SkyView’s moving maps and synthetic vision displays as standard TCAS I symbols, identify the location, severity of the threat, distance, vertical separation and heading of any aircraft within the traffic system range.
Nothing like having your own radar-like warning system in flight.
SkyView can also receive traffic information from a Zaon XRX PCAS passive traffic receiver, a Navworx ADS-B receiver, a Trig ADS-B receiver, or any device that outputs the industry standard
GTX 330 TIS traffic format.
Essentially this means SkyView’s new traffic feature can be used worldwide.
The new traffic feature comes with all Version 2.6 software, available now on all new SkyView units and downloadable for free for current SkyView owners.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

WIRED Gets Air-Wired

Following up on my post two days ago, I'm happy to report Wired magazine just ran a story online about the Yuneec E-Spyder that Tom Peghiny of Flight Designs has been developing for them.  The story has several excellent photos and it's a good write-up, so click on over there to see how the mainstream media is helping push public awareness of electric aviation.
Here's the Wired video of the E-Spyder that ought to whet your appetite for electric flight...I can't wait to get back to the states and get over to Tom's to do my own story on it.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

E-Spyder Ready For Prime Time

     Everyone interested in electric flight will want to know that the E-Spyder electric-powered ultralight is poised to enter the marketplace.A few days ago Tom Peghiny invited me out to Woodstock, CT, about 3 hours drive from my house, to fly the latest prototype (v. 3) of the venerable FlightStar ultralight.
I had to pass since I was prepping for a family visit to Germany.
photo courtesy Yuneec Aircraft and Flying Pages
Checking in from Hamburg, I found a post on his website from my pal and LSA colleague Dan Johnson, who scooped me on the following info:
The E-Spyder will be marketed by Yuneec, which bought the rights to produce the design from Tom and continues development on several other projects: the graceful E430 S-LSA which has won several prizes already; E-PAC power backpack for paragliders; and electric motor systems for a variety of aviation applications.
Originally tabbed for around a $25,000 price tag, latest word is the E-Spyder will price out under $30,000.  It's a single-seater that qualified for Part 103 ultralight status.
Dan also reports the production prototype comes with longer wings (33 ft.) and a dresser drawer-like battery tray to completely enclose the power pack in the fuselage fairing.
Other battery notes: fewer cells but greater overall capacity, simplifying the balancing process during charging (2-2.5 hours) which is important with lithium polymer (lipo) batteries.
Weight-reducing modifications include thinner-wall 7075-T6 tubing, a carbon fiber sandwich fairing and a Mylar-laminate Dacron wing envelope.
Refinements to the motor include a lower max RPM which allows it to spin a longer prop at greater torque.
Tom wrote, "We have been flying a lot since finishing the plane in mid September."
So far Tom and team have taken 15 flights on the upgraded version. Flight testing so far has brought these numbers: a top speed of 52 mph; stall of 22 mph - you can almost run that fast!; 35mph cruise; flight duration of 20-35 minutes, less than the hour originally expected...but Dan quotes Tom as saying "We've been able to soar it in light thermals as it really wants to go up."
And since Tom's place of business (Flight Design USA) gets its power from a company that generates 80% of it from windmill and some hydroelectric sources, you could say the E-Spyder almost literally flies on air.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Electric Cessna Skyhawk update

Keeping tabs on Cessna's electric C-172 project in collaboration with Bye Energy of Colorado, Bye just announced it will make a presentation at the annual NBAA (National Business Aviation Association) convention this that's going on right now in Atlanta.
Bye Energy as I've blogged in the past is working on electric and electric-hybrid propulsion systems for LSA and light GA airplanes under the banner of its The Green Flight Project announced earlier this year.
The latest news is the electric Skyhawk will fly in the first quarter of 2011.
George Bye, CEO, had this to say recently: "This is an ambitious effort, but we are continuing to uncover additional efficiencies with electric-powered flight," he said. "We are grateful to Cessna for its continued collaboration and support."
Cessna's head honcho Jack Pelton added: "Bye Energy's progress toward first flight of the electric Cessna 172 demonstrator is encouraging news for the future of mainstream general aviation."
Backgrounder: More than 43,000 Skyhawks have com off the line since 1955. 
The electric version could evolve to a four-hour flight time performance.  Reports are, given the sobering realities of current battery technology limitations, the first "electric" Cessna will in fact fly with a hybrid engine (jet-fuel/electric a la Toyota Prius).
Here's a video from Bye.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Keeping it Neutral

Ken Godin, an endlessly enthusiastic, high-energy entrepreneur and 30 year ultralight, LSA and GA pilot, created his own company, Composiclean, a few years back, to market a line of pH-neutral and other cleaning products that are finding their way to air shows, car shows, dealer ramps and at docksides around the world.
Composiclean's Ken Godin, left, and Flight Design USA Pres. Tom Peghiny
If you've scanned the Aircraft Spruce catalog recently you may have seen Ken's goods. 
Like many innovations, Compsiclean came about through a vacuum in the market place.  Ken was a key player at Tom Peghiny's Flight Design USA operation until 2008, when he left to become Director of Sales and Service at REMOS Aircraft.
"Tom asked me if I knew of a neutral cleaning product for his CT line of LSA.  He had seen first hand that some composite components can be negatively affected by the alkaline pH of the cleaners typically available...most cleaners are either acidic or alkaline."
Ken's a networking guy so he went looking for a neutral-pH cleaner. 
"But I couldn't find one anywhere!"
Then he called chemical companies all over the country.  Still no luck. 
Most of us would just drop it at that point.  Not Ken. 
"I found a chemist willing to create a neutral ph cleaner for me.  That first product evolved into Bucket-Wash."  It has the same pH as clean water and so won't attack foam, or promote corrosion in dissimilar metals either (Composiclean's line isn't just for composites).
Other products soon followed: Super Spray-Wax with Carnauba wax that stays in solution, tire dressing formulations, multi-purpose cleaners, leather and vinyl upholstery cleaners and lots of other goodies and tools for keeping airplanes,cars, motorcycles, RVs and boats looking great.
I've used them and they really live up to their reputation, but don't take my word for it: check out the testimonial page on Ken's website. 
He's also rebuilding, from a completely rusted wreck, a 1953 Chevy pickup as a "mascot" for his car show displays.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

"What Are You Doing, Maverick?!"

The Maverick flying car I've blogged about in the past has been all over the news lately for having trumped the competition by being the first to market with a viable land/sky vehicle (it's ASTM certified S-LSA #110), at a viable price ($84,000), and in a functional, and dare I say it, wildly fun way.
Maverick climbs out with gusto
Technically, it's classified in the powered parachute category (PPC), eminently logical since that's what it is!
Maverick is in essence a four-wheeled dune buggy with a big pusher prop, rugged off-road suspension, and an easily-deployed paraglider-like canopy that gives the car it's airborne capabilities, but stows neatly on top of the car when more earthly thrills, or a visit to a third-world native village to do good works, (it's designed "mission"), are desired.
Dan Johnson put up a broader post on it recently, but I didn't want to miss the chance to share this fun video again of the Maverick in action.  Very impressive the way ti handles the sandy road, and there are other vids of the test program and airshow visits too.
Since it's approved by the DOT (Dept. of Transportation) for travel, you're good to go on land and in the air.
As far as the water, I'd assumed it couldn't be fit out with floats due to the difficulties (impossibility) of launching a wet para-canopy.  Au contraire, airheads.
Two for the road
In fact, there are floats too, for "river crossings".  Given the unimproved terrain capability the Maverick was designed for, this is an important capability.
I thought about this for a couple seconds then had a Homer Simpson "Doh!" moment: We don't' need no steenking parasail canopy at all!  Just drive the vehicle onto the floats and boat over, using the prop for thrust, to the other shore or around a calm bay or lake.  Launches on water with the para-wing on land should be possible too...but I would imagine tricky, which means lots of folks will be trying it.  Should make for some interesting YouTube moments down the road.
It's no doubt illegal to drive a prop-boat around on some lakes but that's another galaxy to explore on the local level.
Anyway, now I can say, "Maverick: for land, sea and sky".  Even cooler.
Maverick without it's Ninja suit
Another attraction for non-pilots should be how easy it is to transfer skills they already have: steering with a wheel and using a foot pedal for power.
As diehard PPC pilots will tell you, a few hours of basic airmanship training are all it takes for this Everyfolk vehicle to be safely flown.  Of course, complete Sport Pilot training is required to fly it legally, but while you're training, nothing to keep you from blasting around in the boonies, eh? 
Wired Magazine reports that Itec, the parent company, says government and law enforcement agencies are looking into the Maverick.
Seems logical with all the viable applications for this simple flying vehicle: fence line perimeter patrol for ranchers; spotting fires; patrolling pipelines and power lines; flying out to car rallies in the boonies, of course; and civil air patrol spotting at a much lower cost...being able to lope along at what are near-stall speeds for typical GA airplanes could be a real boon for search and rescue.
With the immense popularity of paragliding and the natural, if not entirely accurate, association people make  between parachutes and safety, the Maverick could be a real sleeper that attracts a lot of buyers.
   ---photos and video courtesy Itec

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

FALCON 2.0 First To Fly Lycoming 0-233

I got an email today from Christopher “Doc” Bailey of Renegade Light Sport that the Falcon 2.0 just made its maiden flights with the brand new Lycoming IO-233-LSA engine.
A video Doc linked to me gives the salient details.  The Falcon LS was initially imported by T&T Aviation which sold the distributorship and inventory to Doc and his partners last July, as posted here earlier.
FALCON 2.0 makes maiden flights with Lycoming IO-233-LSA, 116 hp engine
You can read more on Doc's ambitious plans to market 100 of these beauties with standard synthetic vision EFIS panels from Grand Rapids Technologies for $125,000 in my column due out next month.
Lycoming's new IO-233
Falcon is the very first airplane to fly with the Lyc 233.  Renegade is working with Lycoming and Champion Electronics to develop it.
“We’ll fly it over the next few months,” says interviewer and 35 year Aeronautical Engineering Professor Fred Schieszer, “and report back to Lycoming and Champion, which is developing the electronic ignition system.  But after today’s flights, everybody has big smiles!”
Test pilot Rob Runyon made four hops totalling .6 hours.  “I saw in excess of 1000 AGL by the end of the 4,000 foot runway.”
The 15 knot wind gusted to 23. 
“The Falcon accelerated through 80 knots and climbed at 1500 feet per minute after rotation.  Liftoff took 500 to 600 ft from a standing start, about the same amount of time as it took me to throttle all the way in, under 10 seconds.”
“Max level power came at around 2400 rpm,” he continues.  “It doesn’t wind up like the Lycoming 235, which might be a prop difference.  It accelerates to 110 knots and keeps going; in the pattern, you have to get right out of the power, like a jet, or the speed will wind up on you.  To keep it in flap range, throttle back to 2000 rpm.”
Checking out the 233 at Midwest LSA EXPO
Runyon used 40 degrees of flaps and stayed high on short final intentionally.  He’d been advised by Doc Bailey not to land at idle, given the gusty winds.
“I approached at 70 and touched down around 55.”
The Lycoming IO-233 makes the airplane a little lighter in the nose and balances within an inch of the original IO-235 installation.  The engine weighs 38 pounds less, helping keep empty weight around 800 lbs., yet it still delivers 116 hp.The maidens are an important step in bringing the Falcon 2.0 to market after a false start with the previous importers.
And if this beauty flies half as good as it looks, and the economy gathers steam, the biggest challenge for this ASTM-certified (with the O-235) sport flyer would seem to be simply getting it into production.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

SportairUSA Expands to GA

Those hardworking Sportair guys at North Little Rock Municipal Airport (KORK) in Arkansas are serving more notice that they intend to stay around for the long haul.The purveyor of fine LSA (Sting Sport, Sirius, iCub and SeaRey amphib) is now an official FAA-certificated Repair Station for the general aviation community as well.
The company has been in the aviation biz for 20 years.
Ralph Murphy, former Accountable Manager for a major avionics shop, just joined the party to head the avionics department, which sells, installs, upgrades, repairs and services avionics, radios, instruments, autopilots and related airframe modifications.
Sportair's President Bill Canino, an ex-USAF and National Guard pilot who's flown some of the great military airplanes of the 20th Century...and loves flying around in the iCub (that's him in the rear seat)...says “We have the facilities, the staff and the experience to keep your avionics in tip-top shape.”
Aircraft owners can get everything from GPS systems to autopilots to glass cockpits to engine monitors and more sold and serviced.
Larry Martin, head of marketing for Sportair, emailed to tell me there's a new website too, check it out.