Sunday, November 29, 2009

Shades of Disruption!

While touring about one-third of the USA over the Thanksgiving holiday (via: Dash-8, CRJ-700, A320, and 737, so far...) I had some time to do some reading. Okay, looking at pictures- and some reading too.
Drawn to aviation magazines at the airport gift shops, I came upon the November 2009 copy of Plane & Pilot, with the Icon A5 on the cover (different pic than the one shown here).

I hadn't intended on doing another headline about Light Sport Aircraft, at least not so soon, but the article well, set off the Disruption Alert Monitor (DAM) in my little brain.

As a somewhat gushy sort myself, I'll give the P&P writers a pass on the somewhat gushy "Rock Star" accolades regarding: the airplane, designers, staff, CEO, future owners, etc.

Where things seem a little, star-struck and rocky, are the observation:

"...the James Bondian prototype was unveiled at a very rock 'n' roll premiere in Los Angeles in June 2008. The lavish affair was complete with stage lighting, beautiful people, pumping music, and celebrities...".

Well, sounds like fun. Not to sound hurt or anything about not being invited, I was curious about who did attend. The Icon web site has a nice article about the "coming out" party. (I have to confess, I struggled recognizing the beautiful people, (the redheaded guy in the headlock turns out NOT to be Carrot Top, but rather Shaun White. OK, me too, so here- interesting picture with Sir Richard. Strange little incestuous world we seem to be discovering- more about that in a future headline). Not pictured but mentioned elsewhere was Jeremy McGrath, probably one of the 5 best motocross racers in the past 30 years- seems the Icon CEO Kirk Hawkins is a sporting type, interested in skiing and motocross- picks some world class chums to hang with). The single (well, single main-stream anyway) celeb I noted was Buzz Aldrin, the second guy on the moon. Buzz turns 80 in a couple of months, so I find it a little odd he'd be attending a LSA debut. Paid appearance, perhaps? Maybe a complimentary Icon whenever they come off the line- by then, I would expect even a former astronaut might be comforted knowing that a sport pilot license does not require a medical. (Not sure about military flight physicals- I remember seeing Barry Goldwater shuffling along with a cane, and then clambering into the back seat of an F-16, so maybe Buzz has some leeway...).

Anyway, back to what set off the DAM:

"In an extraordinary example of viral marketing, Icon has- almost without trying- created an airplane so anticipated by the general public that it has leapt outside the geriatric boundaries of general aviation...".

Wow. Okay then. Time for US to step in and give this thing a look.

(And I'm sure Buzz would appreciate it if that were changed to "generic" boundaries).

First of all, this is being built to pass the Light Sport certification regs, rather than the "onerous" FAR23 standards. I am becoming less and less enamored with LSA certification, and frankly, wonder why a LSA shouldn't have to stand up to the same requirements as a Cessna 152. After considerable contemplation, the ONLY reason I can see the FAA establishing LSA is to avoid the expense of reviewing numerous small aircraft programs, and avoiding some sort of liability exposure, even if it's only moral or political exposure. The EAA was behind the sport pilot licensing, which I can understand, and appreciate- why they would become involved in fighting OEM legal and regulatory battles stretches the imagination. ("Good for the flying public" I suppose- perhaps some of our fellow bloggers can shed some light on this). Lots of airplanes are being certified to LSA/NTSM standards, so I'll cut the Icon guys some slack on that one.

The design team was recruited from Scaled Composites- they are very good with prototypes, but shall we say less than stellar record of successfully certified derivatives. Maybe the LSA rules will present, um,...less of a challenge.

Only two people have flown the airplane- and one of them is the lead engineer, and the other is the CEO?? That seems very odd. Credit to both of them for being highly experienced, but multiple inputs are the norm. (Maybe there aren't any other pilots? Is the operation that small?)

Being built with "disposable tooling" that allows two or three uses? Oh? How, ah, very ...interesting.

Over 450 orders, and "Standard A5 deliveries are scheduled to begin fall 2012, with position 450 delivery estimated for Q4 2013". Lets see- 450 airplanes, on disposable tooling, in the first year of production. Ooookay.

And, those "orders"- $5K down, fully refundable (and escrowed! Silicon Valley Bank. Yeah for Icon for doing the ethical thing). But that only comes out to a bit over $2M. Outside "angel" and venture capital has been obtained (sufficient to take the program through certification and production startup. R-i-g-h-t. I suppose compared to some of the big ticket IT adventures in Silicon Valley (where the players in this seem to be from), this is chump change- maybe $20-50M to get it going? (Anyone think it will be only $5-10M? For build quantities approaching 500, the first year? More like $100M for that volume probably. How do you make a small fortune in aviation?...)

Icon does have a nice up-front purchase contract.
($139K+CPI, figure 3 years. Standard equipment: manual folding wing, steam gages, no BRS- seems like a CPI'd, optioned up one would come in around, say, getting close to $200K or so..).

I'm a bit concerned about the wing fold thing- there is a video of it, but "we already have that mechanism tested" doesn't quite jive with "they've built the actual mechanism, (but) the implementation needs to be finalized".

I was also a little puzzled about the first flight video.
One, why did it take place on a lake, instead of a long runway, with crash crews, ambulances, etc.- and without the risk of drowning. Two, where is the chase plane? It is a ground based video- no chase plane? A bit substandard.

(An alternate explanation dawns on me- could it be they don't even have a hangar at an airport? -the home page shows landing at a land airport, but is it a touch and go from the lake?)

After watching the video several times to detect a chase plane- I think the takeoff "roll"(?whatever it's called for an amphibian?) was shot from a boat(?)- the engine start scene puzzled me- why it just starts moving. Then it dawned on me- fixed pitch prop, the airplane starts moving as soon as the crank starts turning. It would be helpful to have a variable pitch prop for zero thrust- maybe even a reversible one for shorter landing and crude maneuvering. But LSA rules say fixed (or ground adjustable) pitch only. And speaking of maneuvering- don't float planes usually have water rudders? (Not a big thing to add, but I don't see it yet. The engine placement would make the air rudder pretty effective, but sometimes more speed isn't a good thing).

Speaking of propulsion- the 100 HP Rotax "is enough power, but we're looking at the turbo charged engine". Cha-Ching!

The Wall Street Journal article mentions "barely 9 feet across".
The California DMV says 108 inches for the trailer, 102 inches for cargo- looks like a tight squeeze. I assume they designed for it. In California anyway.

One other thing concerns me- the flight test is taking place at Lake Isabella, a lovely little lake, in the middle of nowhere (I've been there in passing).
"This is a machine that appeals in a big way to nonpilots and is changing the public perception of flying...that is Skimming just 20 feet above the water, I sense the fun and excitement that Hawkins is working to convey". I have some concern that flying boats will, to some degree, indeed "change the public perception of flying"...mostly in response to noise.

How about the management experience at Icon?
The "team" has a lot of smart guys, but any aircraft manufacturing experience? NOPE.
Don't worry- there is a "board of directors and advisors":
John Dorton- CEO of a boat company
Vern Raburn- Lately?
Jim Ellis- a lecturer at Stanford
Bruce Holmes- Ex-NASA, of airspace "modernization", AGATE, and air taxi fame.
David Kelly- Industrial designer
Esther Dyson- "noted visionary"
Ilan Kroo- Aero Prof at Stanford (certification experience?)
Stewart Reed- industrial designer for automobiles
Troy Lee- industrial designer of sporting apparel and concept cars.
David Beech- Manufacturing engineer at Stanford ("Innovative Manufacturing").
Smart folks, no doubt. But aircraft manufacturing experience? (As a group, quite limited. The first three are directors, the next seven are advisors- handy for determining the interior colors and such. Plus, maybe they can help out with the books too- at some airplane companies the directors apparently were color blind, at least when it came to red ink versus black).

Anyways- the Icon looks like a fun project. And I think it is technically feasible. How affordable, profitable, practical, and plausible, well...I wish them well.

(This month's edition of Plane & Pilot- has lots of fun articles- Light Sport avionics, electric airplanes, convective weather, VFR corridors, Cessna 206).

183 comments:

Phil Bell said...

I really DO wish the Icon guys well. I think they are sincere, and enthusiastic.

No doubt their rather studious team leaders and advisors have, well, studied things a lot.

Other than reservations about LSA certification relaxations, my main concern is that I hope their product doesn't irritate the non-flying public (any more than land airplanes don't irritate the non-flying public; a challenge in both cases). The presence of a float plane at that ideal isolated pristine lake, inaccessible by automobile, will certainly offer some motivation to campers to "participate in aviation-related process", one way- or another. (Put another way, how many fishermen have become jet ski enthusiasts).

But with responsible behavior (and good mufflers), there might not be much negative impact, and might indeed be some positive influence.

(Then again, how many fishermen have become jet ski enthusiasts...
:)

WhyTech said...

Yet another triumph of form over substance!

Shane Price said...

I have two pet hates.

1. Snowboarders who go 'airborne' over crowed paths.

2. Jet skiers who regard one inch of clearance for other users as sufficient margin for safety.

Seems to me that ICON has merged the worst of both worlds. I'm not sure which of my favorite leisure activities to give up first....

And yes Phil, I too detected a large amount of hype associated with the launch event. That, and the presence of our beloved Wedge on the board just about sealed the deal for me.

Mind you, with the rate he's been resigning from things lately, maybe he'll do the other BoD members at ICON a favor and 'get out of Dodge' pronto.

Shane

Phil Bell said...

Hi WT,
Well, I gotta hand it to the Icon guys, are are doing a lot of market research anyway.

Lots of form, for sure.

Lots of performance? Well, hmmm.
Looks like it floats pretty good.

(It will be interesting to see if an eventual IPO floats as well...)

Phil Bell said...

Hi Shane,
The whole LSA thing seems a little strange to me- why not just buy an old 152 with a ton of support available. For about 1/3 the price. That's probably what Cessna wondered, but saw wisdom in bringing the 162 LSA to market, so...

But a LSA amphibian is a bit more unique. Lots of fun, if it were a four-seater, I think it would be a lot more practical. But maybe a lot more expensive to certify too.

One of the specialty tasks I could invision for this- is being pulled behind a yatch. For the folks who don't have a helicopter on their yatch, this would be pretty nifty to buzz around in. It would lack the practicality of a helo, but would be able to neat stuff. Like...float.

(Looks like it might be a lake-craft rather than open water plane though, so that somewhat dimishes the yatch theory).

baron95 said...

Phil, I'm trying to understand your issue with the LSA "certification standards".

Are you saying that there should be a single standard for all planes, regardless of size, use, etc?

Do you want Part 25 standards for say a Cirrus SR22? I hope not.

So, if we accept that an SR22 can be certified to a lower, less reliable, less safe standard than say a G550, doesn't if follow that a VFR-only, 2 person plane, with limited weight, cruise and stall speed, can be certified by a somewhat lower standard than an SR22 or C510?

I personally think that certification standards are useless.

I think the aircraft producers and product liability lawyers are perfectly capable of producing safe airplanes with assistance from the Feds. But that is another issue.

For now, I'm hoping we can agree that different classes of planes should have an appropriate standard. And when we get to these tiny LSAs, it should be pretty close to a self-certyfing, buyer beware basis.

airsafetyman said...

Well in the previous post we have a supposed statement from the Cessna CEO's wife saying how much she looks forward to flying the damn thing. The subtext, of course, is: "Don't worry about the airplane not being certified and Cessna throwing out all FAA and CAA certification regulations back to the 1920s, or be concerned about this POS thing being hammered out by god-knows-who using parts from god-knows-where - because I am going to fly the first one!" Sure you are lady, I think you have gotten as close as you are likely to get with the Cessna marketing photo op.

Now we have the cross between a jet-ski and and an uncertified LSA airplane? Are these people out of their minds as well?

julius said...

Phil,

C162 and Icon A5 - isn't that similar to Mustang and EA500?
In this case the Cessna is even less expensive and less challenging than the amphibium!

I think the aircraft producers and product liability lawyers are perfectly capable of producing safe airplanes with assistance from the Feds.

Hmmm - as long as nobody tries to regulate the (amphibium) LSA scene the rules of the jungle will dominate. And if it becomes too expensive for the producers they will stop their production...

When are we going to the enjoy the first Icon A5 delivered to a customer? 2012 or 2013?

Julius

baron95 said...

You are missing the point Julius.

When I buy (or fly) a plane, I look at its track record in accidents and service difficulty history plus look at the company behind it.

I could care less if the Baron is certified under Part 23, 25, or nothing. I look at its track record and Beech.

I would not buy an Eclipse in 2008, regardless of it being Part 23 (latest amendments) certified. It is meaningless to me.

I think the risk benefit crew and product liability lawyers at Cessna and Embraer and Pratt have a lot more to say in safety decisions than the FARs.

baron95 said...

In case you guys missed it, November was an important month is the liberation of aviation in the US, following right along in the footsteps of the steel and auto industry.

(this is by memory, so I may be off on some numbers)

Boeing Division in South Caroline voted to DE-CERTIFY THE UNION and immediately received the the 787 second line, a brand new 14 gizillion acres new site and guaranteed 3,500 jobs. Note that those jobs are far in excess of what is needed for a second line.

Boeing's McNerney in an interview, flat out said he is looking for workforce diversity, and hinted that work will migrate out of Puget Sound.

Cessna's Pelton, and the Union Boss of Wichita, separately, noted that there was a swing of tens of thousands of union jobs out of the area.

And Bombardier, announced they will soon have 1,000 workers in Queretaro - their composites center of excellency, while they laid off another 750 today in Quebec.

So, where does that leave us?

From Honda Jets to Lear 85s to 787s soon coming out of liberated IAM (et al)-free lines.

In essence, this will actually put Boeing ahead of the big 3 in de-unionization.

Could you imagine, even two years ago an IAM-free Boeing jetliner assembly line?

I.e. Foreign manufactures locating plants in the US south, and US manufacturers fleeing the union-heavy Washington/Quebec/Wichita for the South (US and Mexico) and West (China).

Now Pelton still doesn't get it. Cessna's backlog has been cut in half (from $16B to $8B), several of the Citation lines are at production levels below economic viability, Citation orders in Q3 were THREE JETS. Scheduled production for 2010 is less than 200. And he still thinks they can avoid "structural changes" in Wichita.

They guy is the new Wagoneeeeeeer (ex-GM CEO).

May the powerful one have mercy on his soul when NetJets dumps 200 late model, low cycles, well maintained used Citations on the secondary market.

And poor Jack if the US$ goes back to the historical 3 to 1 from the Brazilian Real - Embraer will feast on his backyard.

Guy has no clue - didn't notice a permanent shift in the market.

baron95 said...

One correction to the above - The Boeing employee vote to decertify the IAM union in the North Charleston plant (by a 3 to 1 margin) happened earlier (September, I think).

And I forgot to mention that Boeing's CEO interview explicitly mentioned the fact that South Carolina is a "right-to-work" state as the primary reason to move work over there AND that unionized engineering and plannt workers forced the hand of the company to farm out 787 sub assembly to the outside of the company.

Aviation week has several issues covering that if you to read it.

It was quite amazing how Boeing was acting on cost control

baron95 said...

Oh, and for the workers in Wichita and Washington, in case you need more motivation to change your ways and join the free market.....

....

Latest unemployment figures for Detroit...

....

28.9%

Wake up.

baron95 said...

Oh, and that was after the Chief gifted $78B (to GM Chrysler UAW) and $25B (to all as research money) to Detroit.

But GA will have no such luck.

The Chief declared the products you work on as "undesirable".

julius said...

baron95,

Cessna's C162 is or seems to be a more serious approach to the LSA scene than ICON'S A5.


Cessna or any other LSA producer may have made their parts, but in case of a crash it's all about the court what is right and wrong or what are the real standards for LSA. In case of a good legal framework (FAR...) this rxperience might be less expensive....

If everybody is waiting for a damage or maintenance history then there will no plane from ICON...

Julius

P. S.: Nothing wrong with you idea - $M.15 for a few hours of LSA experience wouldn't be brilliant!

airsafetyman said...

"Boeing's McNerney in an interview, flat out said he is looking for workforce diversity, and hinted that work will migrate out of Puget Sound."

Really odd how unionized engineers and workers can make the 727, 737, 747, 757, 767 and 777 isn't it? Boeing's non-union suppliers and vendors have made mostly a nightmare so far with the 787. I believe it is unionized engineers and unionized workers who are trying to correct the train wreck that the 787 has become to date. I guess McNerney needs a whipping boy? God forbid he should take responsibility for the mess.

Floating Cloud said...

When I heard about the ICON A5, I thought, hey why not ask hubby to attach a little jet ski to the front of my Skycatcher? I’ll also ask him for one of those really cute parachutes too that will bring the whole airplane down lightly upon our yacht just in case I screw up. Now, that I don’t even have to get a certified pilot’s license to fly for sport I can just wing it! Hey I know, I’ll wear my bikini, snorkel, and flippers under my jumpsuit to be ready for anything. That way if I feel like going for a swim I can get on my jet ski and whoosh just one inch away from Shane’s face (he loves it when I do that) and then back to the yacht to catch my Flycatcher er Skycatcher back home in time for supper! O my gosh Oshkosh, am I excited!

Mary Rose

KnotMPH said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
airsafetyman said...

Floating Cloud, you've got it! With all the PFDs and MFDs and the parachutes you don't need skill or training or judgement or experience anymore! Airbus started it with the "crash-proof" airplanes - see how well that has gone over! Now it is drifting down (like a Cirrus on a parachute) to all levels of general aviation. Enjoy your Skycatcher/jetski combo, because nothing ever could go wrong!

Phil Bell said...

Hi ASM,
I'm a bit concerned too about training requirements- it's great to get folks in the air, but I wish there was a bit more minimum training involved.
I think flight instruction is one of the rare bargains in flying- I hope our eager and enthusiastic LSA friends recognize that- I'm sure most will.

The only thing that concerns me a bit is, you have to know enough to know you don't know enough.

(Or something like that- 20 hours of instruction might not be quite enough to establish that self-awareness).

Floating Cloud said...

Sort of like going out on New Year's Eve. YOU may not have had a drink all night, but what about all the other drunks on the road?

Or like the first time I went skiing in California in the late 80s after having grown up skiing in Colorado. Never saw so many skis and poles flying every which way in my life... plus crappy snow. Gave it up and stuck to going to the beach instead. Nothing like watching surfers at Zuma beach Malibu. Now there's some flying on water...

Floating Cloud

Beedriver said...

The Icon is going to be a failure. it is at least 300 lbs overweight. it is also unable to handle waves over 9 inches and that will limit it to days with no waves and where there are no motorboats.

I fly a Seabee and it will handle waves up to to 2 ft easily (quite common on most lakes with boats) and survive a 3 ft wave. a friend of mine tried to play submarine with a wave from a passing boat that was only 1 1/2 ft high in a lake. He took out the windshield and a float but the engine was still running so he could beach it.

The competitors (Adventura series by Aero Adventure Aviation and The Sea Ray by Progressive Aerodyne) which do not have folding wings are basically tube and rag designs and very light and strong but will carry two people, full fuel and some stuff and still be under 1430 lbs. the Icon at 1430 gross will probably only carry one person and a little fuel.

this is another typical Vern Rayburn type of over hyped airplane where the CEO is good at getting money but cannot demonstrate an airplane that will meet spec.

I have talked about the problems with this airplane in several threads before. If I can find my earlier comments, I will bring them forward

look up the competitors to see the specs the Icon needs to meet if it is going to be successful.

Phil Bell said...

Good morning Baron,

"Phil, I'm trying to understand your issue with the LSA 'certification standards'".

My concern over LSA certification laxness stems from the two Cessna 162 crashes, with testing "outside the requirements". And the multiple Zodiac 601 in-flight breakups. And has been considerably heightened after Cessna commented they are doing considerable testing beyond the LSA reg requirements.

Which makes me think either Cessna is stupid for wasting money on extra testing, or the LSA reg requirements are inadequate.

Since they've had two crashes with test pilots on board, I think Cessna is not stupid, and the LSA requirements are inadequate.

"Are you saying that there should be a single standard for all planes, regardless of size, use, etc?"

Nope. (But in particular, I implied there should be a common (proven) standard for Cessna 152-class airplanes, and Cessna 162-class airplanes).

"Do you want Part 25 standards for say a Cirrus SR22?."

Nope. (I think the existing Part 23 standards do the job quite nicely for the SR22. And the Cessna 152. And would apply equally well to the Cessna 162).

"So, if we accept that an SR22 can be certified to a lower, less reliable, less safe standard than say a G550, doesn't if follow that a VFR-only, 2 person plane, with limited weight, cruise and stall speed, can be certified by a somewhat lower standard than an SR22 or C510?"

Interesting point- I suppose we could fund the FAA to develop a new category for VFR-only, 2 person plane, with limited weight, cruise and stall speed. I don't see how it would differ significantly from FAR23 (that cover the SR22 and C510- and the Cessna 152) though.

Regarding the ASTM LSA regs- we've already seen the early results with two 162 spin-related crashes. And multiple fatal Zodiac 601 flutter-related crashes. Over a period of years, the ASTM will learn the hard way.

But the FAA has already learned the hard way, and the results are incorporated in FAR23. Why reinvent the wheel, or reinvent safety regs?

"I personally think that certification standards are useless."

I think the FAR regs are a great thing for everyone- who wants to buy a new airplane, and then find out it's flawed and their money was wasted? Or be an unknowing passenger on an unsafe airplane? Or near an airport with unsafe airplanes overhead? Suing afterwards, for lost money, or lost lives, is a poor substitute for upfront safety regulations.

"I think the aircraft producers and product liability lawyers are perfectly capable of producing safe airplanes with(out) assistance from the Feds. But that is another issue".

Cessna it would appear, is- they went beyond the LSA regs with their testing.

Bubba's Septic Service and Light Sport Aircraft, Inc., won't. And suing them when dead is small comfort.

(The family of victims might get free septic service for life though...)

It isn't necessarily that Bubba is cutting corners- BubbaInc just doesn't have the experience Cessna does.

I think the FAA regs do a great job of leveling the playing field for startups, giving them access to the same lessons Cessna learned the hard- and expensive (in lives and dollars)- way.

"For now, I'm hoping we can agree that different classes of planes should have an appropriate standard. And when we get to these tiny LSAs, it should be pretty close to a self-certyfing, buyer beware basis".

I agree that their should be different classes- there is currently FAR 23 for small airplanes and FAR 25 for big airplanes. Why invent a third class for planes that weight 1320 lbs (LSA), versus 1330 lbs (FAR 23)?

Phil Bell said...

As far as "buyer beware", why should lack of regulation apply to aircraft companies but not pharmaceutical companies?

So deregulate drug companies, and let buyers only buy from reputable companies? On the surface, that has some merit- but it poses an unfair market penalty to startups without a track record.

And THAT has a worse consequence: it incentivizes those startups to make exagerated claims to capture market share.

The downside of that exageration? Either substandard performance relative to the exagerated market pitch, or exagerated safety assurances. Consumer fraud, or consumer endangerment. Neither is acceptable.

airtaximan said...

"And when we get to these tiny LSAs, it should be pretty close to a self-certyfing, buyer beware basis."

OK... THE LEAST EXPERIENCED SHOULD BE ABLE TO DISCERN SAFETY FOR AIRCRAFT?

Seems like this crowd would be fooled te most,a nd most attracted to lofty claims, and OK with unknown providers.

I do not think gov't control of everything is good, and I do not think we need regs for everything, BUT, te system has worked OK thus far, IMO. IMprovement room is available, but just letting neophyte buyers buy the mot affordable planes and have no cert regs and let them judge for themselves... sounds a little nutso to me.

Shane Price said...

Another airtaxi in trouble, Snippet

JetBird is an Irish backed airtaxi startup, planning to begin services from central Germany since the start of this year. They have a large order with Embraer for Phenom 100's, with more than 50 'confirmed'.

Flightglobal.com are reporting that staff have been put on protective notice, which probably indicates that all is not well.

I'm beginning to lose track of the number of these operations that have either a) never actually become operational or b) considerably modified their offering. I suspect that this whole idea of instant access to a flexible, low cost jet that would replace other forms of transport is no longer a runner.

Here in Europe it begins to look like we're stuck with our high speed trains, high speed roads (and low cost airlines) for a while longer.

Shane

Jim Howard said...

I think both the Icon amphibian and the Terrafugia flying car could be reasonable designs, but not within the weight and power restrictions of the LSA standard. Certainly not for under $250K or so.

I confess I don't understand why Icon wants their 'dashboard' to resemble that of a car.

I think both these designer teams are trying to cram 7 pounds into a 5 pound sack.

Phil Bell said...

Hi Shane,
"Here in Europe it begins to look like we're stuck with our high speed trains, high speed roads (and low cost airlines) for a while longer."

Tsk, tsk- those are just the sort of things one must resort to if there aren't a lot of nice smooth lakes around.
:)

Phil Bell said...

Hi Jim Howard,
Thanks for the info on the Terrafugia- I didn't realize they were going for LSA cert (I realize with reflection it was because I assumed it would be considerably over 1320 lbs).

(Right-o about the 'ole 7 lbs vs 5 lbs thing).

julius said...

Shane,

did you look at EAI -"about us"?
You will find:
Ekim Alptekin - Executive Vice President, Europe and a director - is co-founder and CEO of Myjet Aviation, a Turkish company dedicated to the advancement of air taxi services utilizing the EA500 Very Light Jet.
Just more than 100 orders (in November 2008!) - no Nimbus- or Dayjet-orders!
There still are some people who dream of airtaxi operations...

Julius

P. S.: Boeing's 787 "made" the 100% load test. The first flight seems to be possible in 2009. Is there enough time to pass the next 150% load test?

Beedriver said...

I think the ICON concept of folding wings and a narrow enough tail to trailer it home combined with good enough main wheels and bearings to trailer down the highway at highway speeds and a detachable rear (or front) hitch system so a trailer is not required could be a real winner.

However by the time it got so it could carry two and stuff and full fuel or maybe a third person with a high enough and narrow enough bow to survive a 2 ft wave hit could be a real winner. however I bet gross would be closer to 2000 lbs and the engine would be in the neighborhood of 160 hp.

Add to that a reversible prop and it would handle well when docking etc. The trailer it home feature would reduce storage fees dramatically and the ability to carry two real people and stuff would make it have some utility.

Except for the folding wing and built in trailering ability the Aventura II can do it now in the LSA catagory. 580 lb useful load and a cost of 40 to $60,000
go to www.sea-plane.com

or the sea rey www.searey.com

baron95 said...

Phil said...Which makes me think either Cessna is stupid for wasting money on extra testing, or the LSA reg requirements are inadequate.

------------------

Neither. Regardless of regulations, Cessna will always test to the requirements of their legal department and liability insurance carrier. Complying with FARs does not provide immunity from being sued if Dr. Big Bucks is killed while learning to fly on C162 due to a design defect.

julius said...

Beedriver,

are there any examples of an a/c which could be used as a trailer?
Trailing the icon A5 on not so good roads will have some impact on the lifetime of the structure.
Thus the he log book also should contain times for (dirt) road tailing!
How is the impact on the structure tested?
Fortunately, not only the wedge has some contacts to the automotive industry...

Julius

baron95 said...

ATM Said....

I do not think gov't control of everything is good, and I do not think we need regs for everything, BUT, te system has worked OK thus far, IMO.

------------------------

hummm.....what is your definition of "has worked"?

It has worked to make it impossible to certify ANY new FAR23 design for less than about $200M dollars.

Producing "100% Safe" designs is NOT, never was, can never be, the goal of regulations, if it makes it impossible to certify affordable designs.

FAR23 has killed GA. Count how many planes were introduced under full FAR23 day/nigh/IFR/FIKI in the past decade.

And if you care about pilots being killed and saving lives, this is what you need to take into account:

TODAY - Pilot A has US$150K to buy a plane. That is his MAX budget.

Choice 1 - A 4 decades old, decrepit plane with a carburated engine that will stop for no reason, and electrical system with no redundancy in IMC, certified to CAR 3 standards.

Choice 2 - A modern design, with new avionics, electrical redundancy, self-certified or certified to a relaxed standard.

That is IT.

It is currently impossible to certify to part 23 a brand new design and sell it for $150K.

So the result is that more pilots continue to die, because Part 23 made it certain that they can only afford 4-decade old planes.

Analogy would be if the fuel economy and safety requirements on card made the cheapest new car cost $300K.

Result is that people would keep older cars longer and longer and longer, and the safety benefits and fuel saving benefits would never be realized.

Net/Net - If regulations make a product unfordable to the intended consumers it is IRRELEVANT.

And Part 23 for entry level planes became irrelevant.

People are building/flying "anything goes" kit planes instead.

Why is 2 LSA spins or 2 LSA breakups more troubling to you than hundreds of such flat spins and breakups in kitplanes and old CAR 3 designs?

baron95 said...

If I want to know if a TV or car or lawn mower is any good I go to Consumer Reports, J.D. Power and other like independent testers.

If I want to know if a car is safe I go to the Insurance Institute of America safety ratings site.

If there was no FAA or FDA, we would be doing the same for planes and drugs.

Of course the alternative is "feel good" stringent FARs and "it has worked" attitude, while we watch the GA fleet get older and older and older and older, while only one or two new (largely unfordable) designs come along every decade.

KnotMPH said...
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gadfly said...
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gadfly said...
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baron95 said...

Hey KnotMPH, are you are that licensing boards are private entities for all these professions?

Are you also aware that medical school accreditation is also a private entity?

You gave the perfect example - no Feds involved in medical certification. For now at least ;)

airtaximan said...

So Baron would now have us believe if the FAA was not around, we'd have a wonderfully modern $150,000 part 23 airplanes to fly around.

Recent news about jetBird folding (my words)... another well-funded "air taxi" company in the EU using the Phenom craft, pretty much says it all.

The VLJ promise, Eclipse Promise.... of affordable jets is gone. Air taxi service for the short jet trip, is well, now toast.

No FAA to blame, no regs to blame... just a simple misguided airplane with no real market and some reinvention of air taxi to try to justify the wee-jet(s) low price based on volume.

This is the real issue... has nothing to do with the FAA cert regs. Has everything to do with the realities of the marketplace, customers, and the fact that the littler jets are expensive because there's no major market for them.

Blame the FAA, learn nothing.

Shadow said...

Mmmmmmmmm. KnotMPH got me hankering to try some ice cream with bacon. EVERYTHING is better with bacon. Perhaps even the ICON A5 would be too.

Shadow said...

New promo: buy an ICON A5 and get a year's worth of bacon for free!

After you're done eating all of that bacon you'll probably need a good heart surgeon, but it sounds like Gad might have some good recommendations here. And since you don't need a medical, you can go right on flying after your heart surgery.

Sounds like a win, win, win situation to me!!

gadfly said...

Shadow . . . That's pure genius . . . a "quintuple bypass fanjet"! Hey, I'm already halfway there.

gadfly

(. . . in a humorous vein, as it were!)

Beedriver said...

I know of one airplane with gear strong enough to trailer.
one of the seabee guys blew a cylinder in Florida. he went to the store bought two cheap mattresses some 2x4's wire etc.

he took the wings off and tied them to the sides of the Bee, (unfortunately it does not have folding wings). built a hitch to hook to the tail and tailwheel, hitched it to his car and towed it back to Minneapolis at 60 mph (almost as fast as the Seabee flys) It was no problem, the gear was fine the wheels and bearings had no problems.

It is a very tough airplane.

Beedriver said...

Seabees are very tough, simple airplanes however it truly has a 40's engine with the original Franklin 500 cuin engine.

Warning if you buy one with an original Franklin do not fly it. until you have had it checked out by a real guru. there is only one engine builder I would use to build an engine.

the B8 or B9 500 cuin Franklins are truly 40's technology and a stock Franklin bee will eat valves, mag gears will suddenly lose their teeth and the oil cooler will suddenly come apart all without warning. A well maintained one is fun to fly. but one that has sat around will make you wish you had stayed on the ground. Bees go about 95 mph and and can carry what ever you can fit in the huge cockpit. they have a reversing prop so docking is fairly easy and they can handle up to 3 foot waves and still be in one piece. other than the origionaal engine it is great. It was built by Republic and is as tough as the ww2 fighters they built.

I would give anything to have had the engine evolve over the years to what you can get from Contential or lyc now which are mature reliable engines that run and if you do a little maintenance and do not abuse them to badly they are very reliable.

Dave said...

I don't see their path to profitability...what volume do they need just to breakeven? I was surprised they only had 450 orders after all this time and hype.

Oh and also on an unrelated note, the CEO of Government Motors is out after less than a year on the job.

KnotMPH said...
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gadfly said...

KnotMPH . . . Last night I was thinking about "overweight" aircraft, and how they might benefit from a "Quintuple Bypass Fanjet Engine". In my case, I have never been overweight, but the "quintuple bypass" sure has been a blessing. Of course, the loss of a vein in my left leg, and the scar tissue in my right groin, plus all that titanium wire holding me together in my chest is a "pain". But I consider the alternative, and go on about business.

Other folks determined the price/cost of the disposable tool . . . and comparing $125 for putting together a couple arteries or veins seems to be missed in light of the tens of thousands of dollars for the time in "OR", and recovery, etc. Inventors do their best, but beyond that, we have little control. But I go to bed at night with a clear conscience . . . knowing I did the best I could, and it was better than the previous methods.

And here's something . . . as an inventor, etc., it's downright fun to make something that saves lives, and/or makes recovery a whole lot shorter, etc.

But forget the dream of human gratitude. Some lawyer is out there to make sure your efforts didn't anticipate everything that could have been anticipated, and is ready to take you to the cleaners.

gadfly

gadfly said...

Beedriver . . . Probably said before, but I remember the day that Moody got a buyer for their "SeaBee" . . . cranked up the "Franklin" and applied full power on the "Southwest" turf strip, cleared ground, and put some life into the leaves of the trees that bordered "Wooddale" (Illinois) . . . clearing them by maybe twenty feet. You're right about the thing . . . it was built like a Sherman Tank, and that old "Franklin" 6 cylinder engine gave it everything she had . . . maybe she knew it was her last opportunity to "make good". That was a long time ago . . . early "sixties". The only other time I witnessed such an event was when the chief flight instructor decided to take the "AT-6" for an evening spin, on that same southwest runway, and I thought for sure he wouldn't avoid providing some "kindling" in those same trees.

It's amazing the amount of aluminum that can grab enough lift, and actually pretend to compete with the birds. It's also amazing that I can sleep aboard these contraptions, . . . or spend a few weeks under the ocean with equal peace and lack of concern.

gadfly

('Probably some form of insanity . . . ya think?)

H.M.E said...

"So Baron would now have us believe if the FAA was not around, we'd have a wonderfully modern $150,000 part 23 airplanes to fly around..."

I just get the impression that Baron just likes to debate.

If someone on a budget wants to buy a reasonably priced two seat aircraft, why look for an LSA when a Diamond DA20 will do?

docile and well behaved, Far23, utility, spin cerified, G500, fuel injection, from an established manufacturer, for $185K

Is 150K some absolute? Why not demand a sub 100K while at it then? Is the 35K extra not worth it?

Reality check: IN 2008 diamond sold maybe 70 DA-20. So far in 2009, only 12 were sold (GAMA).

Did a permanent and fundametal shift occur lately? Does the consumer actually exist any more?

Or maybe that consumer existed only because of free credit and tax incentives, which when gone, so did he FOR GOOD?

gadfly said...

Beedriver . . . a long, long time ago, Moody found a buyer for the Seabee. The old Franklin “six cylinder engine” came to life . . . and I watched as this massive collection of aluminum parts, resembling something close to a Sherman tank, brought the prop up to maybe “2,600" rpm, and bumped along the turf into the southwest over the trees that bordered the city limits of Wooddale, Illinois. It cleared the trees by no more than twenty feet . . . and Wooddale never knew what they missed.

That was back in the early 1960's. The only thing that came close to that was when the chief flight instructor decided to take the AT-6 up for an evening spin . . . another case of dusting the tops of some trees with an aircraft right on the “cutting edge” of exceeding the limits of a 2,000 foot turf strip.

But the chief flight instructor recently gained fame with fifty years without an accident (good thing they didn’t go back a couple years earlier . . . breaking through a crust of ice on the snow in Michigan, flipping over, and spending the next few weeks hauling a Cessna 140 back home, and making a fabric wing into an aluminum skinned wing, etc., etc.).

We all have skeletons in our closets . . . but some are much funnier than others.

gadfly

gadfly said...

H.M.E. . . . You bring up some excellent observations . . . and I’ll not go there, and admit my ignorance of much of what you say.

When it comes to designing the many components and systems related to aircraft it requires a fundamental practical understanding of each and every aspect . . . from aerodynamics to manufacturing to structural integrity to technical understanding (materials/electronics/etc., etc.) . . . and a good handle on human behavior and how to manage/ train people, combined with a motivation to do it right. This is a full platter of requirements . . . yet we have seen of late those that want to “shortcut” the system, design something by computer . . . and assume (falsely) that one can simply take a computer model, apply a “workforce” of “x” number of warm bodies, and a bunch of recent graduates of some engineering college (USC, Stanford, . . . take your pick), and produce an aircraft.

Many more will attempt to do the impossible . . . thinking there is a shortcut to success. It didn’t happen with Eclipse (combined with some less than honest claims), nor will it happen even with the best of honest intentions. There is no shortcut to success . . . nor is there a “magical” way around the need for that single genius in each enterprise, who alone spells the difference between success and failure. Good aircraft designs are rare . . . Great aircraft designs are more rare than hen’s teeth.

gadfly

(Keep on “cluckin”!)

gadfly said...

KnotMPH . . . go to http://www.archive.org/details/JackBenny19481949 . . . use “Real Player” to play it . . . You’ll find “I’m thinking . . .” about 25 minutes into the program from March 28, 1948.

In fact, you’ll find a plethora of radio/movie/ancient classical music, etc. at “Archive.org” . . . even including early aviation films, and complete movies all for free.

Enjoy!

gadfly

(Here’s the Bob Hope classic on Democrats: http://www.archive.org/details/Zombies_842 )

bill e. goat said...

Baron,
"Cessna will always test to the requirements of their legal department and liability insurance carrier."

I'm not sure about Cessna, but in general, you wouldn't like to see how the sausage is made.

Case in point, does anyone really think the legal staff at Cirrus, or Piper, or Eclipse, or even Boeing reviews structural and flight test plans?

Mustard and Catchup please!

bill e. goat said...

This float plane deal reminded me of something.
Oh, it was dinner.
Think I'll go have some sausage!

Well, okay- maybe later.

But for now- with a little research, it was the Seawind.

(While one might choice to stand up in a convertible, or famously not in a learjet, I would definitely not recommend it in this airplane. And we thought Eclipse gave their customers a "haircut"!)

A rough landing might prove a little exciting- or perhaps not: "The crash also showed the strength of the composite structure and, in particular, the vertical fin/engine pylon arrangement. Some skeptics has felt this was a potential weak point in the Seawind design[3], although the pylon is capable of 15G vertical and 20G forward loading, more than twice the certification requirement."

I'm not sure of the early details of the Seawind, but currently empty = 2300#, 310 HP, 4 seats.

I agree with Beedriver on weight, and Jim Howard on price, and suspect the Vern's Waterbug Special will experience similar growth.

Into FAR 23 category, with resulting: lots of redesign, delays, and price increases.

(Still, perhaps a more practical plane, seats for 4 and modest luggage, and adequate fuel for reasonable range. The EA500 grew by, what, almost 50% weight (something like 4200 to 6000, if PR autorecall works right). The Waterbug might "Eclipse" that weight gain! I still think the Waterbug, and the Seawind, might be developed into nice airplanes, although neither will be produced in "Verntastic" volume).

bill e. goat said...

KnotMPH,
"By the way, this doctor performs his operations in a local Holiday Inn so I could convalesce without being moved...Could I get any luckier?"

Sure!- I'd go for the operation on Thursdays- the Holiday Inn has weenie tots during happy hour- great for convalescing!

bill e. goat said...

KnotMPH,
"Making the interior look like a sports car makes the transition much easier for the more sophisticated aviation consumer."

Shadow,
"Mmmmmmmmm. KnotMPH got me hankering to try some ice cream with bacon. EVERYTHING is better with bacon. Perhaps even the ICON A5 would be too."

-Bacon, Ice Cream, how 'bout sodie-pops (and weenie tots!)

(I wonder how many cup holders the Waterbug has...??)

bill e. goat said...

Dave,
"I don't see their path to profitability...what volume do they need just to breakeven?"

I think 0 would be the least-bad answer...

bill e. goat said...

Baron,
"And I forgot to mention that Boeing's CEO interview explicitly mentioned the fact that South Carolina is a "right-to-work" state as the primary reason to move work over there AND that unionized engineering and plannt workers forced the hand of the company to farm out 787 sub assembly to the outside of the company."

Cheap labor is why Boeing moved to SC. And SC knows it- that's why they voted to decertify the union- they don't have anything else to offer-
Except government subsidies.
And tax abatements.

The vote was not quite as earth shaking as it might seem on the surface: "199 voted to decertify the union and 68 voted to keep it...The union organized two years ago".

"Boeing spokeswoman Candy Eslinger said. 'We are pleased that hourly workers elected to deal directly with the company on employment matters' Eslinger said".

WooHoo- I bet. How "pleasing" indeed.


"We are also pleased that Boeing Charleston can move forward and meet commitments on the 787 program."

(I guess I missed the part where the union was blocking that).

"She discounted talk that the vote can be construed to influence Boeing’s decision later this year on whether or not to build a second assembly line in North Charleston. The two are not connected whatsoever', she said".

MORE Koolaid Please!

bill e. goat said...

Just how difficult was the union in Washington state?

"For Boeing, the payoff from the line in South Carolina is significant. Workers at an existing plant Boeing operates there average $15 an hour, vs. the $26 or so earned by unionized workers at Boeing's assembly lines in Everett and Renton, Wash.".

Yup, those $26/hour jobs are ruining the country.

Why, that's $50K per year.

(I bet some of them even have TV's!)

BusinessWeek, Nov 6, 2009

bill e. goat said...

Baron,
"FAR23 has killed GA".

That's so nutty, I almost chocked on my weenie tot!

"Count how many planes were introduced under full FAR23 day/nigh/IFR/FIKI in the past decade."

I give up, lets say none.

So everyone would be flocking to old airplanes instead.

But that's not happening- flying is down. So it's not FAR23, and not aircraft prices either (as the old airplanes are already paid for)- it's just some demographic issue.

Maybe there would be more new airplanes released without regs, but the decline in GA isn't the regulatory cost of new airplanes, because there are tens of thousands of old Cessnas and Pipers available for rent and purchase.

bill e. goat said...

Hi Gadfly,
Thanks for the cool links!
(Wish they had more goats though).

(Say, whatever happened to those Franklin guys- seems like a nice six cylinder would be a good thing- I heard they had the impolite and tacky habit of breaking crankshafts- seems like the Jabiru has -sort of- taken over that market, for experimental aircraft anyway).

bill e. goat said...

Baron,
I would suggest the regulatory cost, while not killing GA, has discouraged new manufacturers from entering the field.

I think the legal liability cost is more of an issue though- I heard that back in the 1980's, 25% of the price of a C152 went to cover prenent and future legal expenses.

And it was the limits on liability exposure that prompted the reintroduction of Cessna single engine piston line, not a relaxation of FAR23.

And even though the C162 uses LSA regs, without the product liability reform, there would be no C162s.

Beedriver said...

The rights to all the franklin engines were sold to the USSR many years ago except for the 500 Cuin seabee engine. you can still buy parts for the other franklins that are supplied from Czechoslovakia. I have the address somewhere if you want it

The Seabee engine rights were sold to Republic but no one knows (or will own up to) who owns the rights to that engine. Basically we are keeping The Seabee 500 cuin long shaft versions running with used parts or owner supplied parts. New owner supplied parts are much better as we can use new parts that us better materials than were available in 48.

The Seabee franklin never has broken a crankshaft to anyone's knowledge except the one where the tail shaft extension was bolted on out of straight and it broke. .010 out of straight will break a crank pretty easily. If the tail shaft extension is straight within .001 they are the most reliable thing on the engine.

julius said...

Phil,

from where did you get this "fine" picture of the Icon A5?
The bird is swimming in a green (not "green"!) pond! That is a place with lot's of algae - not the ideal swimming or fishing (tout!) area. But the pond seems to be warmer and the fish might be bigger and there might be more fishes...

Will these gentlemen get someone (and the money) to build this LSA in big numbers (>150) - perhaps in ...?


Julius

Beedriver said...

radically different seaplane design using the fast ferry type very slim hull

http://www.centaurseaplane.com/centaur/design.htm

6 people, rough water capable, folding wings so it can dock at any marina. lots of good ideas.

as usual much work has been done but it has not gotten past the model and some parts being made stage.

here is a radical idea that if someone wants to have a bit of fun with their money and perhaps if they are lucky actually have a flying airplane.

baron95 said...

B.E.G. Even by your standards your comments are slipping.

Number of new design 2-place planes certified FAR Part 23 in the last several decades: ONE - DA-20.

Number of new 2-place planes "certified" under LSA in the past couple of years, since the rule was adopted: A DOZEN

Got it???!!!!???? Is that easy to grasp????!!!!??? Or too complex.

The FAA realized that, their Part 23 regs became irrelevant for certification of simple planes. None were being certified. They changed the standards, and immediately the dam broke.

Having problem dealing with facts, are we?

baron95 said...

Yes, liability is a concern. That is why the typical entry level/light piston GA manufacturer is a near bankrupt or in bankruptcy entity. I.e. not a target for big awards.

The ONLY way around liability exposure for lower cost planes is VOLUME.

Volume will only come with right-sized regulation and innovation.

Until that happens, be ready for light GA to continue its cancerous march towards death.

Fleet Age - Old and Getting Older

Owner Flown Utilization - Low and getting lower.

Owner/Pilot Population - Dying and not being replaced.

If you are content with that, by all means, continue.

After all that is ATM's definition of "System is Working just Fine".

Beedriver said...

sailing speed record on land
combination airplane/iceboat with wheels 126.2 mph single direction

http://www.greenbird.co.uk/land-record

gadfly said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
gadfly said...

Beedriver . . . Speaking of setting records on ice: Many years ago, my Grandpa told me of riding a bike across the ice on a lake, probably near Urbana, Illinois . . . had to be in the late 1800's (He was born in 1878). He marked off a mile and with his modified bicycle, with a very large front sprocket, and small rear sprocket, made the marked-off-mile in exactly one minute. He was somewhat concerned about falling off at sixty miles per hour . . . and of course, during one of the runs, he did fall off. He said it was like falling off with the bike stopped . . . he just slid without incident. No official records were set, but "not bad" for a teenager in the nineteenth century.

gadfly

ColdWetMackarelofReality said...

Baron accusing the reg's of killing GA is officialy a Jump the Shark moment.

http://steynian.files.wordpress.com/2009/10/homer-jump-shark.jpg

KnotMPH said...
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gadfly said...

KnotMPH . . . All this talk reminds me of our first visit with friends back in 1968, south of “Four Corners, New Mexico” in March . . . after a supper of beans and red chili. In spite of blowing snow, and temperature in the low teens, the little house out back among the sage brush withstood the wind . . . barely. “A night to remember!”

We had some friends that said their bathroom once caught fire . . . and the flames almost reached the house.

Memories, memories . . . you young kids needn’t worry about the “good old days” . . . when a Sears catalog was not printed on shiny paper, and had multiple uses.

gadfly

(And when a person had to wear boots to get to the facilities. At least, FDR didn’t ration toilet paper.)

baron95 said...
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baron95 said...

And CW, what is your explanation for the demise of owner flown GA.

Through 2007, where fuel prices were at historical lows and disposable incomes are historical highs and everything from high-end homes to high-end cars to high-end boats was experiencing massive growth, owner-flow GA was in its third decade of continuous slide.

What is the explanation?

Oh, I forgot.

"All is working well", right?

baron95 said...

But, on better news, ....

Congratulations to Embraer for earning ANAC certification for the second member of the Phenom family - the Phenom 300. Note that that is concurrent type AND production certificate.

As before, expect FAA certification within a few days and EASA within a few weeks.

Welcome to the era of Learjet performance at CJ prices.

baron95 said...

Hummm a clean sheet,jungle biz jet that gets 2,000 nm (1,971 to be exact) NBAA IFR range with a balanced field requirement of 3,138 ft while cruising at M0.78.

That can't be right, can it?

Hey Jack, how about getting the wing from the Citation X into the fuselage of the Citation II with the landing gear of the Citation V Ultra and the Tail of the CIII and calling it come thing like the "Soverign II" - that will sell a lot. Oh, wait. You tried that - and that production line is shut down for lack of orders. Bummer.

baron95 said...

But all is not lost...any year now, HB will manage to actually produce and deliver Horizons or Hawker 4000s or whatever the name it will have.

The CEO said that they are "about to turn the corner now", really.

In the meantime, fear not. The re-engined King-Airs and renamed Hawker 700/850/900 XP++ will do - Nothing like a 30 year-old proven fuselage to drive sales.

baron95 said...

I meant 40-year old.

baron95 said...

Surelly Embraer must be skimping on the flight deck and exploiting their workers in sweat shop, semi-slave conditions, right?

That is not right. The B.E.G. and the IAM must make a trip down there and A.T.M. must point out to the FAA that Embraer deleted the angle-of-attack probe sensor to the G1000 to save costs.

We must stop this madness.

baron95 said...

And BizJets to Airliners with single sheet checklists can not be tolerated. The FAA/EASA MUST demand a binder book with dozens of pages. That is how it is done.

baron95 said...

Competition from banana republics is a bitch, ain't it?

airsafetyman said...

Why is Gen Av dying? Gee, maybe its the chain-link fences topped with barbed-wire around the airfields, the card-operated security gates, the security and warning signs pasted everywhere, and that was BEFORE the TSA started their updated actions and inquiries. The joy of interacting with the FAA and now increasingly the TSA. The absurd price of renting and the price of aviation gas? All in all the local marina is a much more pleasant place to be and spend your hobby dollars.

Floating Cloud said...

Airsafetyman:

Could those shades of disruption be why water boarding became an acceptable practice? Is not the air a much more scary place to be? Drowning is for those weenies on toothpicks, even a bill e. goat knows that. Gadfly on the wall, you have lived both above and below water. Have the wide open skies, an American way of life, become a dying icon (not ICON) of manufacturing and regulation? Baron, are you the last great white hunter?

Questions from a Floating Cloud

airtaximan said...

"Welcome to the era of Learjet performance at CJ prices."

Just remember, the ppwerplant is 20 year old technology, developed in the 1990's, enteres service in 2000, and now on a NEW MODERN aircraft.

Kinda makes your arguments about needed new technology from upstarts to provide great new products in GA a litle strange - also, all those cert regs did not seem to get in the way much.... also, it's not produced in a third world country with sweat shop conditions...

So, stop blaming the system, and start working within it, and make something great happen, HERE. A lot of folks are doing this, you just need to get over all the "obstacles" you cite, and get flowing with creative and realistic product and service ideas for GA. Make it work, instead of griping about the FAA, regs, and requirements. None of this results in the demise you predict.

There are cycles and swings in every facet of life, including the economy. Booms are bigger, Busts are deeper, but all in all, its just a blip in the path of progress.

baron95 said...

Lets see.... TSA came into existance in 2002, didn't have any meaningful GA impact till 2004.

Owner flown GA has been in decline since 1979 (3 decades).

Nice try.

baron95 said...

Powerplants are old....


Not True - 535E (emphasis on E) actually improved SFC by 9.5% - *HUGE*

But....

If it were true.... you are just aiding my point...

Here is a company, that at the beginning of this decade had no business jets.

Now, it has a full line of biz Jets from a Mustang competitor to a Challenger+ competitor.

And its latest model, has a pretty mighty price/performance capability and range/speed/payload, using, as you claim, old technology.

So, airframe innovation DOES Matter.

That is why, using the same engine, a fixed-gear SR22 goes faster than a retract Mooney, even though it has a much larger, more comfortable cabin.

Same, apparently is being proven by the Phenom 300.

Now, don't get me wrong. Embraer has *enormous* challenges ahead to enter the Biz Jet market. Success is by no means assured. The biggest challenge now, beyond building the sales/service network, is the appreciation of the $BRL, which went from 1 to 3.3 to the US$ to 1 to 1.7.

What would happen to Airbus if the Euro went to 3 to 1 to the US$. That is the magnitude of the challenge. And it happen between the time the Phenom first flew to when they were certified.

That will give Wichita some breathing room. But sooner or later, innovative designs, investment, sound industrial policies, attention to customer requirements, will catch up with this industry.

It may be Embraer. It may be Honda. It may be some Chinese company 30 years from now.

But Whichita is leaving the door wide open.

They lost the piston market leadership to Cirrus and Diamond.

You dismiss it. Just like Detroit dismissed Honda and Toyota - "They only make tiny cars - we make our money with big cars and trucks - who cares about mini cars". We know how well that turned up, don't we? Chrysler and GM were liquidated, and spin off the assets to try again with $80B from you and me. Ford got the wake up call in time (hopefully).

What if Embraer or Honda buys Cirrus or Diamond?

Life can get very uncomfortable for Cessna et al, very very fast.

Luckly, I think this financial crisis has given everyone a wake up call. Lets see if the boards in Wichita have the foresight to invest in substantially lower cost production combined with long term innovation.

If they don't, sooner or later Beech and Cessna et al will join Mooney and Piper is perpetual bankruptcy.

baron95 said...

P.S. Should say the SR22 goes "about the same speed", not "faster" than the Mooney - sorry.

ColdWetMackarelofReality said...

Baron,

I could try and explain to you why I believe owner-flown GA, especially in the US but elsewhere as well, is on a pronounced downward spiral, but it will not match your world view and you will, I predict, reject it out of hand, so I will not bother.

There are no real fixes to what I see as the primary cause.

Rest assured though that it has nothing to do with the 'onerous' nature of the FARs, Product Liability, global socio-economics, the high cost of unionized labor (which I agree with you about), or the effectiveness of global competitors sucking from the teat of their local governments.

Luke said...

ColdWet,

Could you tell the rest of us?

ColdWetMackarelofReality said...

Luke,

I believe the primary reason for the decline is a change in the character of our nation specifically and of Western civilization in general.

Simply put, we are not the same haven for rugged individualism we once were. It has been fashionable for almost half a century here now to bash the achiever and by reference all of the manifestations of that success – including and in the past year, especially, ‘toys’ like airplanes.

What once was something to be proud of (hey, I own a plane and can fly it) is today measured against the hoax of global warming (what is your carbon footprint) and the widespread brother-love philosophy that aims to determine what kinds of lightbulbs you MUST have in your home, what kind of car you will be ALLOWED to own and drive, and an undercurrent of class warfare that seeks to ‘force’ equality by raising the level of misery (public transportation for all) with the exception of course of those among us who are ‘more equal’ a la the Pigs at Animal Farm.

Pure and simple, I believe GA to be the canary in the Coal Mine in the long cold war against achievement and meritocracy. It has already been joined by Recreational Vehicles (especially at the luxury end), and will, soon enough, be followed by yachts and power boats.

Add to that the very oft overlooked fact that because of, not in spite of, the ever improving regulatory system, operators are still able to safely use aircraft designed 4 and 5 decades ago – the craft were that well designed, they were that well built, and they are that well supported.

Include the effort necessary to learn how to safely and efficiently operate these complex and complicated vehicles and the system in which they operate, what was once a romantic and attractive undertaking, is now a difficult thing to achieve and which, once achieved, only opens you up to widespread criticism.

Lastly, as ASM accurately pointed out, we have been our own worst enemy both in what we have done to ourselves (stupid high-profile accidents), as well as those things we have allowed to happen (ever higher fences, gates, checkpoints, etc.). How is anyone to find and sample the joy of flight, with so many obstacles?

In the end though, the reason the GA is shrinking is because the market is shrinking – fewer people with the financial and time resources necessary who also possess the desire – it takes all three for the market to grow (see track record of the 50’s until the late 70’s).

Why should any company in its’ right mind invest mass quantities of limited resources to compete in an ever shrinking, heavily regulated, training centered, low margin and politically incorrect market?

Shadow said...

Looks like Roel Pieper's back in the news (you might want to brush up on your Dutch first since the Google translation is horrible): Roel Pieper: 'Russen pleegden contractbreuk'

julius said...

Coldwet,

no, that's not all!

There is an attitude that one can buy everything. One puts some $/€ on the table and the six pack is there - without work,.. without own work.

I think flying is too time consuming and one cannot always take the family to the airport!
Compare flying with diving, golf or sailing. I think flying is the least social hobby. There isn't a nineteenth hole, a nice party at the boats or at the beach....
Flying also means learning...

There is more stress (university becomes a school, job, family) and less interest to engage oneself in something social/political or something with a low or difficult to achieve return of investment (time &money versus fun).


Julius

Luke said...

Thank you, ColdWet. There's a lot of truth to what you're saying.

As an aside, it strikes me that many prosperous civilizations become complacent as they become comfortable. Even the U.S. was that way in the 1920s.

Phil Bell said...

Hi Julius,
"The bird is swimming in a green (not "green"!) pond! That is a place with lot's of algae - not the ideal swimming or fishing (tout!"

I confess, it was an internet download from Google, searching for Icon A5 (or some text string close to that).

Lake Isabella is a nice lake, about an hour drive from Edwards AFB, Mojave Ca (Rutan Snake Oil Refinery), and Bakersfield (more conventional refineries).

Phil Bell said...

"Will these gentlemen get someone (and the money) to build this LSA in big numbers (>150) - perhaps in ...?"

(I think these gentlement are after big money more than big numbers! :)

(Although, probably both will be more limited than anticipated).

Q: Will the A5 production exceed the EA-500? (260-ish)

A: I suspect the A5 is already a dead man floating, so to speak- or sinking, if one prefers: Let's hope they move on to an A6 or something, with real payload.

I think the concept of a modern light float plane is viable, I suppose they are deliberately targeting the "jet ski" crowd, and with that in mind, perhaps 2 seats and limited payload is not a marketing problem.

Interesting to see how it will progress- there is substantial consumer spending on sporting goods- and this looks like esentially a marketing exercise at the upper end of the sporting good spectrum.

airtaximan said...

Baron:

Everything you write is basically perverted.

You argue for years that the GA is littered with dinosaurs that can do no good.

You are angry with the FAA for lmiting progress with out dated rules.

You poke at the variant mentality, used in the industry to mitigate risk and offer new models, which according to you are not advanced enough BECAUSE the OEMs are risk averse, and there are no successful upstarts providing revolutionary technology and great new affordable planes.

You give EAC credit for achieving a lot, given the gloomy backdrop that is GA.

THEN, you somehow think you make a point when a 40 year old company with of all things a rich history of producing Piper aircraft in their factories, with 18,000 employees and $20 billion in sales, with GA jets in production for over a decade, produces a smaller $7M jet with a VARIANT of 20 year old technology engines, as a BIG DEAL.

This is an example of every day GA at work, and you somehow mistook it to be of significance...

Your reference to a 9% increase of SFC in a VARIANT of an old engine... even PWC refers to the 500 series as older, and the 600 series as their new technology, is comical, if not outright sad.

You and VErn belong together. Your ability to mould reality into what serves your twisted thinking on all this is world class.

Welcome to GA, everyday GA, where the old companies produce AMAZING new products with variants and incremental improvements, undeterred by the FAA and the risk associated with newer products.

This is reality brother, not the dusty picture you paint. Vern and you would have the world believe GA sucks, and only a new company with "disruptive" technology being applied on the bleeding edge in a unionless shop can deliver great new products. In actulaity, my friend, this is BS, and is a trap - GA is mature, and the GA OEMs are producing the best products, all things considered.

The $3B hole was a waste, and was based on misguided thinking, that there is a huge opportunity to make a cheapo jet with new technology that will grow the market and revolutionize GA and the transportation industry.

Not so... the Pratt Canada's and Embraer's of the world, together with all the other OEMs will be cranking out better models, in the right quantity and right price with the right mix of technology, before any smart ass comes along and tries to leap frog them with some BS story and technology that any reasonble experienced aerospace person can smell as BS.

The dinos got it right, the new guy did not, despite his hubris, arrogance and risky business.

In my world, you sound too much like you-know-who

julius said...

Phil,

Interesting to see how it will progress...

I aggree with you.

There even might be some who will upgrade to GA at the end.

I think the open amphibia give more fun at higher temperatures: more intensive speed feeling, not so hot inside, and no problem with sand and water (easier to clean).
But this is just my opinion!

Julius

P.S.: I hope you you guessed that I omitted the r in "tout" (should be "trout")!

Phil Bell said...

Julius,
"I hope you you guessed that I omitted the r..."

Some say Eclipse was run by a bunch of cooks!

Phil Bell said...

"and no problem with sand and water (easier to clean)."

I quite agree.

And cleaning out the boat/plane/(superman?) is not the only "cleaning" provisions that participants need to be mindful of...

baron95 said...

Hi ColdWet,

Not a bad theory - though it was a mix of observations that are actually happening and those that are actually the opposite of what is happening.

Clearly in the past 3 decades lots of people went through the time, money and personal investment to learn to sail, pilot boats (like our very own Fred) long distances, and go to any track on a weekend and see how many people are taking their high end cars to the track.

Clearly deployment of wealth to time consuming, skill demanding activities from climbing the Himalaya to sail across the Atlantic has been booming in the past three decades. Individual achievement from sports athletes to radical sports to every measure of crazy stunts is more revered now than ever.

So, this is an owner-flown GA specific problem. Trying to generalize it, as something happening in other fields is a losing proposition.

Also, time and time and time again, it has been proven that innovation and relaxation of regulation has provided a meaningful boost in utilization in GA.

E.g. 1 - LSA - big boost because you don't need a medical, and planes are cheaper.

E.g. 2 - Advent of single engine turboprops when commercial IFR single engine was allowed.

E.g. 3 - Huge boost in avionics upgrades and fleet modernization by the advent of GPS and glass panels.

Below...where we get closer to agreeing...

baron95 said...

I agree with what (I think) you were trying to say with the rewards in GA compared to the investment in desire, time and money equation has changed.

But along those lines, the big difference in competition for peoples time and money. People nowadays have a lot less disposable time, and a lot more ways to use it.

In the 50s, 60s, 70s, the golden age of owner-flown GA, we had lots of pilots coming through/out of the military, lots of flight schools, very expensive and regulated airline travel.

If you wanted to go from Long Island to Chicago Suburbs in the 50s, 60s, 70s, you have to go to a travel agency, look through a paper schedule list, hand write you a paper ticket typically weeks in advance. It was very hard to stay an extra day or come in the day before. It was also very expensive. In addition, you had to drive, park, rent at great inconvenience and expense. And you got to fly with people blowing cigarette smoke on you - filthy air in the sky. So flying your Bonanza or C310 at will was a big plus. It even cost less.

Now, you can go on the Web, get electronic tickets for $50-$100 round trip, build freq flyer points, print your boarding passes at home, go through airports that look like high end shopping malls, enjoy virtual 100% safety, etc, etc, etc. And, no one will be blowing cigarette smoke on you on the plane.

And if not airline, you can even do a fractional ownership of a biz jet or get a jet card - again very convenient.

So, for personal travel, with the exception of some specialty trips (e.g. BDR to MVY), airline travel is more cost effective and more convenient.

So, the only way to combat that, is to make personal trips by owner-flown GA, again, "better" than airline travel.

That means:
1 - Personal Fan-jets - no matter what piston just won't cut it except for the romantics.

2 - A regulatory environment, right-sized for the owner-flown market.

3 - Innovation, probably government-sponsored. Let me give you a few examples. You may laugh, but these little things do matter. A - Why doesn't the US provide free, electronic plates, charts, airport info in a common internet-downloadable format? B - Why doesn't the US government provide free downlinked weather - not 5 min whether, by 1 minute weather? C - How about standardizing procedures across FSDOs - e.g once a glass panel update for Gxxx to Cessna YYYY is approved by one FSDO via 337, why not make it an automatic for any like modification nationwide.

Anyway, there are hundreds of opportunities to make it easier to own and fly your plane, that would have a meaningful impact.

Instead, we have this part-25, airliner type mentality in the US DOT.

Too bad.

Someone mention working within the system. I'm more and more convinced that it will only be once GA becomes bigger and thriving in say China, Brazil, etc that we will wake up.

When Cessna and Beech et all, reach the point of being like GM and Chrysler, maybe Washington will figure it out.

Or not - GA may be insignificant by then.

You had the right idea - looking at cultural aspects. But there is a strong link between those and actual deliberate regulatory and technical stagnation aspects to it.

baron95 said...

ATM said...

"The dinos got it right, the new guy did not,"

OK - why is it that Piston sales are dominated by two new entrants - Cirrus and Diamond - that didn't sell anything in the US before this decade, while Mooney, Piper are bankrupt and Cessna and Beech are living off their turbines to ship a couple of 40-year old piston airframes a month?

Oh, yes, I forgot, they "voluntarily ceded the entry level to focus on the profitable end", right?

Yep - that worked really well for Detroit.

Make no mistake, it may take longer, but if Beech and Cessna don't change their ways, they will follow Piper and Mooney and so many others into irrelevance.

HB is on their third disastrous program: Starship, Premier, Horizon. They are one mistake away from bankruptcy.

Cessna is doing very well by comparison. C162 to China, picked up a new-tech piston line with Columbia, got all their Jet programs humming, except the Columbus. Gulfstream only churns out winners - they are playing the Ferrari game.

But competition is only going to get tougher.

So, yeas, SOME of the Dinosaurs are still standing, some are even doing well. But several of the Dinosaurs are extinct. And were replaced by smaller mammals like Cirrus and Diamond and more may be replace by future primates like Embraer.

Competition and Evolution take time to punish the laggards.

baron95 said...

And now it is official....

IS&S has won STC certification to upgrade several old Citation models to a glass cockpit based on the EA500 displays and (supposedly) architecture.

;) ;) ;)

baron95 said...

Doesn't look as good as on the Eclipse, though

airsafetyman said...

What? A dedicated, stand-alone standby attitude indicator? They didn't drink the Eclipse cool-aid, I see. Common sense wins out?

Beedriver said...

It frustrates me that all the standby indicators in the new glass cockpit airplanes are in out of the way area's. If things go bad and you have a fire and need to shut all the electrical down or blank screens I want the standby systems to be where you can easily see it and presented in the normal 6 pack format.

professional pilots who fly every day and train frequently typically can fly on anything anywhere. but the typical private or low time commercial pilot learns to fly on the standard systems and when they fail the standby systems should be easy to use and in the normal line of sight.

I remember trying to fly on the turn and bank when I lost electrical power. Even though I had trained on it, it is hard enough when everything is going well and when there are problems it is almost impossible to talk, try to diagnose the problem, and do the correct fix when you are in the soup.. when it immediately changed it so I have a back up artificial horizon and DG right where I can see it.

The Europeans have it right when they require the back up instrument to be an artificial horizon like the primary display. We are now finally allowing that option on US airplanes but we do not require that there be a second AH in any aircraft flown IFR like the Europeans.

airtaximan said...

Baron:

Funny to see some "examples"... that still do not make a case for your position.

How many GA start ups fail, while the old guys keep selling products in the same category?

You found some successful companies. One was a kit company that certified a great little piston plane, the other an Austrian company founded almost 30 years ago.

So?

Both companies have products that are nowhere near "disruptive"... in fact they are at best incremental improvements, using conventional designs with modern avionics and some aero improvements, with composits.

NOTHING RADICAL.

The jury is out on both of these companies survival, and also, their foray into jets has been a big problem for them, for many reasons.

Try fitting your square-logic into a round-world.

It does not work. Its Vernspeak.

It comes from a fundamental lack of understanding of customer value, what it takes to satisfy clients, and market size. Could the GA OEMs do "better"? Everyone could always describe "better", but the idea that an upstart should come along and compete, is really silly. Any of the upstarts that have not already failed, makes a lot of money, and none of them is a solid investment. None of them have a real strong advantage, and certainly none of them have radically improved GA.

They have incrementally, but nothing that delivers the kind of change you describe, Vern discussed/promoted, and is really a fantasy.

To think the OEMs missed a huge opportunity, is to misunderstand and underestimate them. This is more like Segway than Google, I am sorry to tell you.

baron95 said...

Beedriver said...
It frustrates me that all the standby indicators in the new glass cockpit airplanes are in out of the way area's.
------------------

Not true. Third World Jungle Jets seem to get it right.

baron95 said...

Yes, ATM. All is well. No need for change. Owner flown GA is prospering. Wichita companies will dominate forever.

That worked out really well for the steel industry, the TV industry, the auto industry.

I'm sure it will work out just as well for the traditional US owner-flown GA segment.

airtaximan said...

Nice try, you know I am not saying that...

Just your thesis that the OEMs suck, and that some new company with radical technology is required to provide products and service in GA, is flawed.

There's a lot more on the "failed newbie" side than the "lazy OEM" side of the argument.

Truth is, the OEMs are smart, and they work hard at providing new models. They often take risks, and they continue to live with the risk-reward as well as the difficult adjustment when the economy goes south, and they need to adjust. The boom and bust cycles hurt them harder, becasue they have huge facilities, a lot of employees and the deveopment cycles are long, so you may begin a new program and fund it more easily in a boom, and be stuck developing/launching it in a bust.

So, they mitigate risk. They still develop new great planes, just maybe no the one you want.

Unfortunately for you, there are not enough of you to justify the risk.

Vern prooved this very well.

The OEMs adjust, leverage their design systems and talent, and do a decent job (often) of remaining in business.

If there was a great opportunity fro a large new market, they would probably take it if the risk was managable. They have made some big bets and even come out on the wrong side of that risk quotient.

Imagine how ridiculous the risk was with eclipse?

And for what? A market of a few hundred plus a BS air taxi number?

BAck to the point - you seem to think MORE Eclipse's are needed, and I don't.

julius said...

baron95,

Brasil isn't Third World - emerging nation is better.

But I cannot see the standby vertical speed indicator - in case of emergency additional mental arithmetic is neeeded (strange to most Brasilians!)!

If one compares Prodegy with Garmin 3000 - is Prodegy more advanced than Garmin 3000?


Julius

Shane Price said...

Did a quick 'scrape' of both the EAI and Controller 'FPJ for Sale' sites.

Turns out that EAI have 10 for sale, the 'oldest' being s/n 5. Controller beat that by offering a half share in the very first 'production' one, which they list as a 2006 aircraft.

As I recall events, it's also the only 2006 Fischer Price Jet ever released from captivity.

Someone is also still finding it hard to shift s/n 60 at a mere $850k, despite having first offered it more than three months ago.

EAI have a picture of 5 aircraft undergoing upgrades, but have carefully airbrushed tails numbers out. My guess is that this is avoid unseemly questions about who's getting preferential treatment, in terms of position in the queue.

Pretty scary over on Controller, if you are trying to shift your E500. Nothing seems to have moved in the past few months. Even more worrying is the 'overhang' from EAI, who currently list more than a third of the total on offer.

We all know they have a stockpile of DayJet birds to shift, plus whatever can be cobbled together of the 30 odd airframes that were on the line when EAC effectively shut down, more than a year ago.

Ah, those were the days, when Roel was confident of getting Russian money, and (almost) everyone was still drinking the 'Airtaxi' Kool Aid.

Now it appears we have, for all practical purposes, a 'zombie company'. because it appears to sell nothing and as a consequence risks being abandoned by its suppliers and (more important) its customers.

I wonder if similar discussions will be taking place a few years from now about ICON and it's equally oddball flying jet ski?

Shane

Beedriver said...

I don't think the Icon will ever be sold as it will never meet certification standards. as I remember to be certified it mus carry two people and several hours of fuel. it must carry something like at least 400 lbs of useful load to be certified as a LSA. they will have to give up the folding wings at least or leave the gear off to meet spec. If it has reconfigurable gear as an amphibian the max weight is 1430. without gear it must weigh a maximum of 1320lbs.

seeing what the specs are of much simpler, aircraft with much lighter construction I don't think they will ever meet spec. they did not have the luxury that the Eclipse had of being able to add weight and still meet the certification requirements.

perhaps someone else has the exact numbers on the required minimum payload.

Beedriver said...

In my view the reason that Cirrus and diamond have been the only ones that have sold new airplanes in that class is that

1. that there has been no real improvements in technology except for avionics in 20 years. The airplanes built 20 years ago are basically the same performance, load capacity, fuel efficiency etc as those built now.
2. The demand is smaller or in the max the same as 20 years ago so that the demand can be easily taken care of by purchasing and modifying old airplanes with new avionics and in some cases new upgraded engines like (king Air 200 etc) at a lower price than buying new.

Thus unless there are substantial improvements primarily in engine capability or a much increased demand there will be a very small market for new airplanes.

Only the small portion of the people that will buy only new will support new airplanes. most of the demand 90%+ will be satisfied by customers purchasing good used airplanes that will give basically equivalent performance at 1/4 of the price with old avionics and maybe 1/2 the price of new if everything avionics and including engines is brought up to the performance and quality of the brand new airplanes.

the factor that will change the game will be dramatic engine improvements in cost vs power and efficiency. the only possible game in town perhaps will be a totally new diesel 8 cylinder configuration that will be size and shape interchangeable with existing 300 hp+ engines

BassMaster said...

Word on the street is eai is doing nothing for naj. Naj would fare better long term by themselves but too late. Now eai are paying some law firm to send nastygrams to any mom and pop shop that is willing to work on the pos to cease and desist. Apparently they are citing ip down to as much as pictures on websites. Apparently the ex eac folks that are on the eai payroll don't count. Neat stuff! Thousands of gigs have been stollen but again it's for the better good.

Phil Bell said...

Hi Shane,
I think it's the zombie ex-execs that have been "released from captitivity" that worry the public the most!

(Rumor has it they've hired media consultants to help polish their images, but it's not been entirely successful).

Phil Bell said...

Hi Baron,
Thanks for the cockpit shots of the Phenom and upgraded Citations (IS&S).
(That really IS a nice location for the standby indicator on the Phenom- curious not everyone puts it there- perhaps different ideas on balancing field of view- eg, trying to get the primary displays up into the line of sight as much as possible, versus placement of standbys).

Phil Bell said...

Hi BassMaster,
NAJ- I believe you are referring to North American Jet, a charter operator in Chicago?

(With a good maintenance department, it appears).

Phil Bell said...

BeeDriver,
Thanks for your (and Gadfly's) information on the SeaBees.

I think they are classics- and cool!

(And provide a humbling demonstration to our contemporaries of just how good some GA designers have been in the past).

Phil Bell said...

Hi Airtaximan,
I believe you and Baron will either be both pleased, or both displeased (I think the former though) with the upcoming "headline post"- deferred until this week's final exam (review Calculus class) is turned in- will have it posted Wednesday AM- sorry for the delay!

Phil Bell said...

New Headline Post is-...
Coming Wednesday AM

(sorry for the delay)

(In the mean time, something to consider- the beauty of which eluded me in my former college days: "e" Euler's number)

FreedomsJamtarts said...

Who is going to retrofit a C500 with the ISS cockpit?

Does the retrofit STC include an R-NAV approved moving map, or does the buyer get a free Garmin 696?

Baron is correct, that wherever there is a light (or no) regulatory touch, GA expands rapidly.

Since there are no truly reliable statistics, the assumption that light A/C GA offers roughly the same level of risk as motorcycling (which I believe the FAA came up with some years ago) forms a good baseline.

Society cares little whether a motorbike crashes because it was badly operated, badly maintained, or badly designed.

If there is a socio-economic interest in any specific crash, insurance and lawsuites sort it out.

Since two seat aircraft generally only kill the two on board, and the public perseption of flying "teenie little planes" is of it being dangerous, I think the LSA system is a good one.

It is basically a self cleaning oven. I believe you have airspace restriction to largely keep the LSA's from crashing into densely populated areas, and who cares why the planes crash otherwise?

Uncle Bob knows (or should know) he is taking a risk when he buys his teenie weenine Setting Sun AVD-15 from a new start-up off ebay.

Uncle Bob knows he is a creating risk when he does the maintenance on the AVD-15 engine and can't read the manual because it is a crappy translation from Czech into Chenglish

Anyone who gets into a teenie weenie airplane with Uncle Bob knows they are taking a risk.

In ten years we will know which of the first wave of LSA manufacturers were an acceptable risk and which were a fatal risk.

Risk adverse people will simply wait out this first wave.

Moderately risk adverse people will buy a Cessna 162 or a Vans RV12.

Plenty of dreamers will die. Some dream makers will get sued out of financial existance.

My take on the ASTM design code is that it largely resets the clock back to CAR3. It can be summarised as "Do good work"

Baron has a good point. FAR 23 ammendment XXX has hundreds of pages detailing exactly what good work should look like, and yet the Ecplise still got through with crossed throttle controls, pitot tubes that work like rain guages, an autopilot with a auto disconnect in turbulence, etc.

I would bet that Gad's company was either not ISO 9002 certified, or only did the certification because of marketing. The effective quality system was the Gadfly's personal high standards. "No substandard product will be delivered".

The Wedges culture of quality was "no substandard product will be delivered, until the check has cleared"

I think Vans aircraft is going to be the 800lb gorilla of the LSA world. Here is a company with plenty of practical experience in designing aircraft optimised for this kind of market, with a strong culture of honesty and quality.

I doubt Cessna's C162 design team can demonstrate the same depth of continuous experience as a team. Vans core engineering team has been very stable for years.

FreedomsJamtarts said...

Lets not forget that Vans has a couple of decades experience of making a profit selling into this market.

I think it will be hard for Cessna to compete in this market in the longer term. Sending the production out of Whichita was important, but the support organisation is still there, and it will be tough for them to lower their standards to the LSA level. If they apply the normal 21.3 system, the amount of engineering work could rapidly expand.

I think the C162 will be a good product and may well be successful due to the Cessna reputation making big flight school fleet sales, but I think the price will quickly inflate.

ColdWetMackarelofReality said...

In an unrelated note, several months back Phil posted a 787 First Flight Competition, only Baron, myself and No Skids posited dates,

Baron said Oct '09, I said November '09 and No Skids said March '10.

Boeing is hinting towards first flight in the next 2 weeks. So once again, the 'collective' wisdom of this august body appears to have bracketed the schedule reasonably well.

And I will be closest... ;^)

gadfly said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
gadfly said...

Freedoms, etc., . . . You spelled out the ISO 9002 accurately. In reality, the "Perry Johnson" folks, (ISO 9002 caretakers/auditors) changed the audit requirements each and every time they checked our books . . . costing us tens of thousands of dollars in useless paperwork, and it made no difference to the customer who originally required the ISO 9001:2000 program, because it became obvious that something was going on under the table from the competition, etc. And we won't play that game.

It was all a "political ploy".

The various so-called quality assurance programs actually work in reverse, preventing or hindering better methods to be implemented, while keeping the "paper pushers" fully employed and generating more heat than light.

When we had to let the crew go, ISO was also a casualty. Our quality remains high, with much less effort and expense.

These programs, ISO . . . Six Sigma . . . and the others are how politicians, number crunchers, and paper pushers imagine a business to operate, without the practical knowledge of how to run a business and manufacture a quality product. Unless you speak of someone like "Deming", few understand how the system works. Quality starts at the top, and is demanded throughout every department, every employee, without compromise. "Compromise" on quality, going hand-in-hand with dis-honesty, is a cancer that will in short order affect the entire body. And we have watched the practical "proof" of this with the original subject of this blogsite.

You want a good place to eat? . . . Go check out the restrooms. You want a good place to work? . . . Talk to the janitor! You want a good reliable product? In this case, look under the paint!

The "ISO" records won't tell you a thing . . . only that a sample "gage block" was sent out for "calibration" on such-n-such date. Now tell me . . . how does one calibrate a ceramic "Joe-Block" (Johansson gage block). . . and does that mean the final product is safe to fly?

In "Watch the Birdy", Red Skelton was testing "flash bulbs" . . . This one was good, this one was good, etc.. All the same mentality. Like testing fuses!

Well, you all get the point. Quality is an uncompromising standard that is demanded at the top, and anything short of doing one's best is unacceptable, and will not be passed on to the customer, or final user. Period!

gadfly

(When the wings fall off, make sure you have a full time "inspector", and a file cabinet full of documents. The same lawyers that are suing for breathing asbestos in the shipyards in the early 1940's will surely track you down. Even then, you haven't a chance of winning in a court of law. 'Wonder how many lives were saved from being bar-be-cued aboard ship because of using asbestos during a certain war that we remember this day, 7 December 1941, when the gadfly had just turned the ripe old age of "five".)

gadfly said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
gadfly said...

Shucks . . . I can't seem to count. On that big day, I was only "four", not five. But I came across a picture of me with my parents in Sunland Park, not far from Lockheed, holding a "Stromberg" model of a Lockheed "Lodestar". You remember the "Lodestar"? Shane should know about it. It became the "Hudson" bomber, "Old Boomerang" . . . a wonderful twin engine, twin tailed, bomber, built in Burbank at the old "Vega" plant, and flown to England to help the British fight against Hitler. Many times, as a little kid, I remember seeing those bombers flying overhead, in camouflage color schemes, with the British triple circles on fuselage and wings, probably being flown by women transport pilots to our friends across the pond. For a four or five year old, those were exciting times, when folks wanted to do their very best, and were most willing to sacrifice the normal comforts of life for friends in far off places.

gadfly

("Stomberg" models were partially machined wood parts, possibly of "box wood" or "sugar pine", requiring a certain amount of skill to sand, glue, and paint . . . to make a complete and accurate model of various aircraft. They were for display only . . . yet filled a young mind with the excitement of flight, and beautiful aircraft design. Even at age four, I understood something of the care that must be taken when playing with such delicate and precious models . . . it remains with me to this day. And I am pleased to observe one of my grandsons (of nineteen grandkids) who at the same age carefully and delicately handles similar objects with extreme care.

Character and discipline counts! Don't you ever doubt it.)

mountainhigh said...

Well it seems the date for the "battle" has finally been set. Excel-Jet vs. DOJ the first week of May.

One strange thing is the heavyweights being brought in by the government to support their argument that the aircraft was stalled by the pilot. Surely proving an aircraft stalled shouldn't require that much expert witness horsepower?

I asked Bob if someone could stall the Sport-Jet? (and if I could quote him) "Any aircraft can be stalled eventually but given the Sport-Jet's proven acceleration and climb capability it would take real effort on the part of the pilot and the results wouldn't be pretty... in reality a lawn dart from 500+ altitude resulting in a hole in the ground with very small aircraft parts. The Sport-Jet was only 10 ft above the ground when the event occurred and it left a 220 ft wing tip skid mark. I haven't quite learned how to shift into the parallel universe the government must be working in."

gadfly said...

mountainhigh . . . Please forgive me from "butting in". At present, a major winter storm is coming into the Albuquerque area . . . the "Home Nest" of the Eclipse Very Light Jet, (although I choke on the "very light" part, a half ton over original claims).

Of recent history, the ambient temperature has dipped towards "zero", actually to minus nine where we plan to build our new home, a mere afternoon bike hike from Albuquerque.

And so few months ago, the little bird was about to mount all obstacles . . . heat/cold/etc. . . . to change the entire concept of general aviation.

Today, according to earlier claims, a person could not even "fire up" the twin burners on the little bird, let alone take off from ABQ.

In a few minutes I'll "fire up" the 1999 Lexus RX300 ( an "old bird" by today's standard), and make my way up to higher altitude, and soon be enjoying a safe environment next to a wood-burning cast-iron stove (manufactured, by the way, in Nashville close to a century ago, speaking of "quality assurance", and doing it right the first time).

The discussion, for those who may have just dropped in is "Quality" and all that follows. I'll not repeat previous comments.

We're in desperate times . . . make no mistake. The answers are simple, but complicated by political presumptions, and personal pride.

For now . . . let it go at that. And spend some time thinking about not only the future of general aviation but the future of political intent, basic motives, other subjects that "some" have found uncomfortable, and your own future. My own future is secure. How 'bout yours?!

gadfly

airsafetyman said...

With all the enthusiasm being generated by some LSAs it may be time for a reality check. There is a certain high-wing two-seat trainer that sometimes wind up in a muddy, snowy, field, swamp (or what-have-you because the pilot pulled when he should have pushed or vice-versa. In any event there was a serious crunch. When investigators look at the airplane it often initially looks OK. When they ask how the occupants are they often learn the occupants are deceased or seriously injured. What has happened is that the very light structure of the afforementioned high-wing two-seat trainer deforms on contact with the ground and rebounds to a degree. The occupants inside have had have the firewall/instrument panel shoved backward into themselves causing horrific injuries. You do not see this type of injury nearly as often on the larger initial training aircraft such as the PA-28 or the Cessna 172. Those are the smallest size airplanes I would let someone in my family learn to fly in. FWIW.

baron95 said...

I think you will win the 787 first flight date, CW.

And this could be a very good month for Boeing.

787 first flight. 748F 001 completed and second order (from Korea) for the 748i (LH must be breathing a sigh of relief).

Lets hope they hit the ground (not literally) running in 2010.

If Diamond and Boeing start deliveries in 2010, we'll have a SEJ/VLJ and a large Twin/Transport made of >50% composite materials flying.

Those will be two very meaningful proof points at the low/short/small and high/long/large ends of the spectrum.

I'm almost excited again.

baron95 said...

Julius, Phil, you should know that on the Phenoms, the backup instruments (ADHRS and all) can display on the PFDs.

So if the Garmin packs it in, the Pilot can throw the backup data on any good screen - the 12 inch ones.

baron95 said...

Now, what I want to see is this thing fly.

BassMaster said...

Keep forgeting but oh so oft and quickly reminded that this is the blog formorley known as....

Yes Phil re Naj. Yes they have a great MX shop as well as an expensive parasite known as eai.

Dave said...

Now eai are paying some law firm to send nastygrams to any mom and pop shop that is willing to work on the pos to cease and desist.

Just like the old Eclipse.

Dave said...

It's just so funny to hear Vern whine. Vern is disappointed in the depositors for suing and he says he lost more money than they did anyway:
That angry depositors, who each lost from tens to hundreds of thousands of dollars, filed the lawsuits doesn’t surprise Raburn. “It wasn’t unexpected,” he said. “To say it’s a massive disappointment is an understatement. It seems to be the American way. This is going to take years and years, and in the end, the only people who make money are the lawyers. There will be millions and millions in legal fees, and that all comes out of the insurance money, if the insurance pays for it.”
Raburn himself lost plenty of money in the bankruptcy of the company he founded. “I lost far more money in the whole Eclipse thing than anybody who sued,” he said, “from money I invested as a straight shareholder and money as stock.”

Former Eclipse execs embroiled in lawsuits

Shane Price said...

Dave,

It's not often I've agreed with The Wedge, so I find it difficult to do so now.

But...

The early depositors had several opportunities to escape from the crater that EAC became. Gunner was one, and he didn't even qualify for one of many 'refund events' that were triggered over the years.

Those that sent deposits after Stan started the original blog in 2006 were really asking for it. Even the simplest Google search would have found that blog, and the content was enough to scare me, and many others, off.

Finally anyone who paid in after Wedge sued us in March 2008 really does need serious therapy.

And yes, there were quite a few who got 'caught' by the ConJet, or were silly enough to pay for someone else's 'position'.

If I was one of those who's being sued, I seriously offer the defense that the plaintiffs had failed in basic due diligence, and seek to quash the action on that basis.

OK, I know it would never work. Lawyers actually prefer stupid clients.....

And another thing. Does Al Mann really need a racing yacht, or is his action merely designed to put pressure on Roel to pay up?

Don't answer that, it's a purely rhetorical question!

Shane

mountainhigh said...

Gadfly... my relatives in MT are indeed in the deep freeze! Oh...for a little of that good 'ol global warming for the western US.

"Political intent" ... an interesting phrase that carries much meaning. It's disturbing to see some scientific institutions/agencies succumb to political intent. It's a high-stakes game (lives at risk) when political intent wends its way into agencies such as NTSB, FAA, NASA ....

H.M.E said...

Cirrus Design behind on rent

airtaximan said...

Guess who said this:

“We were awfully close to succeeding.”



My question would be "which time" and "at what"?

BassMaster said...

The TSA screening manual is now online for all to see. What a bunch of screwballs! It's been redacted but can still be found.

gadfly said...

A long time ago, we (who work in machine shops/prototype model shops and build various contraptions) depended on calipers that used what is known as a “vernier” scale, to fill in the gaps between the .025" increments. ‘Looking to see which two lines most closely “lined up”, we determined the .001" value to be added to the other increment. The old "slide rule" is another example of the vernier scale.

What’s the point? . . . The human brain works best, especially in quick reaction, to “analog” information. For instance (like coming into work this morning), if you feel the car tending to “slip” on ice in heavy traffic on I-40, with a cross-wind, and traffic boxing you in, the last thing you need just then is to interpolate side-G-forces on a digital display, etc. The brain and senses react much faster in such situations to the many variables that are not easily nor quickly defined in our present digital world. Even finding a radio station on my wife’s Lexus is much easier, “twisting a knob”, than on my Lexus, fiddling with “up and down” on a digital display. Even Lexus seems to have figured it out.

The “all glass cockpit” is a wonderful thing, no ‘bout a doubt it (‘just seeing if you’re paying attention). But there needs to be an “analog” system giving real-time information, right in the middle of the glass screens . . . in addition to the so-called living displays of terrain, etc. Every day, I live in both worlds, seeing my designs in living color, in three dimensions, etc., yet I still need to maintain touch with the “real world”, without an electronic interface. For instance, even using Adobe Photoshop, I can do some amazing things . . . but I do better using a Kolinsky brush, pure water, non-fugitive pigments, and hot (or cold) -pressed heavy cotton paper.

We used to take a “depth mike” (depth micrometer), and with eyes closed, determine only by “feel” when the spindle and anvil base lined up to exactly “zero”. It’s amazing that I could usually be “dead on”, not more than a ten-thousandth of an inch off . . . showing the sensitivity that God had created in the nerves of my finger tips. And this is no “fluke” . . . other machinists could do the same thing. In an attempt to use all the new technology, we sometimes forget what we leave behind as we leap into a digital universe. Between “digits”, there is much subtle but important information between . . . our brains are able to sense this otherwise un-used information.

Let’s face it. Much, if not most of the fun of flying comes into our brain and emotions by the analog systems of our body. To think that flying is something as cold as interpolating digital displays is to miss much . . . and that gets right down into aircraft safety, as well.

Most of the problems of flight control are based on analog systems, translated into digital data, and then re-translated/interpolated back into our “analog brains”, or worse yet, back-tracking to the source through encoders, etc., and moving a basically analog device (all the many systems in aircraft are analog, by nature) to safely maneuver the beast in an “analog” environment of the atmosphere.

For those of you who have not yet fallen asleep, maybe some of you have been able to follow all this . . . hopefully. For the better part of the past seven decades, I’ve lived right smack dab in the middle of much of this, and think I have a few crumbs left to feed to “bird designers”.

gadfly

(Food for thought!)

baron95 said...

I, for one, am very happy that this TSA doc release (which is an old doc, anyway) has made the news.

Not because of any super secret stuff in it - there is none - but because it is another opportunity for the media to report on the idiocy of the TSA screening process.

They clearly reveal what we all know - that targeting LEOs, FAMs, crew, diplomats, in or out of the sterile area, to obtain/pass through with their fire-arm is a very easy way to being a firearm on board.

Not to mention the other idiocy examples:

Sucha as...

Liquid/Gels (beyond 3.4 oz) are prohibited. Well, except that if Mary a AAA-cup lady chooses to use in-the-braw silicone/gel padding in any amount - say 44DDD - she can go through, and can't be challenged.

This is no secret, it is well known, and any terrorist can use it at will.

But fear not. The TSA knows that terrorists can't be female, they can't have small breasts and it is against their religion to sport voluptuous figures.

Therefore, only you and I are subject to liquid/gel bans.

And the Feds are now going to run health care, and CO2 emissions, etc.

God help us.

BassMaster said...

Not sleeping yet gad. #1) I agree...knobs rule. I've always gone out of my way to find audio gear with knobs, even if they are running a digital circuit. #2) The analog to digital (and whatever and how many protocols will be entailed) conversion leaves much on the table to go wrong. The graphic interface is what the pilot ends up with and it's getting better often lately. It's nice to see the peanut gyro in the Brazilian jet. It probably runs from a hot buss as well along with an EPS inline...don't know for sure but that's the way it's usually done. Most aircraft will allow the stby to run with the master power off. The 'scabbed onto the glareshield' units on the "part 135" ea500 is hideous. I know it's on a strange buss but not sure which. I'd have to check my wire diagram in my AMM. Dont think it's a hot buss and the only EPS on a ea500 is the battery(s).

Anyway my blood is still boiling with the TSA deal. They have been so counterproductive in the endeavor to make things safe. Good on them for creating jobs...but we have monkeys that climb on pitot tubes to check aircraft doors and now this online slip. How the hell do you accidentally publish to the internet your manual for screening?!

baron95 said...

Re Cirrus, if the data on the article is correct (which it appears not to be), Cirrus need to find a buyer - NOW!!!

According to the report, Cirrus is down to 75 employees. And they claim they continue to work on the CirrusJet at a good clip!!!!

Come-on. So they are supporting a fleet of about 4,000 planes, they are building 20 planes/month, they are supporting sales, accounting, marketing, inspections, QA, delivery, etc..... AND....they are developing a clean-sheet jet at a "good clip" with 75 people????!!!!!????

Seriously?!!!???

And if you believe the article, they averaged 128 employees in 2009 with an annual payroll of $1.8M.

That is less than $15K/year for each employee.

Wow!!!! I want to hire these folks. Each and every 75 of them. They can design, build, sell, support, all those planes pus the Jet for $15K/year.


They are the most productive bunch in the world.

Cessna already got Columbia, in similar circumstances.

Either no one has money, or someone is waiting for them to file first, like Cessna did.

StuckInNM said...

The article states 75 employees in Grand Forks, not total. I don't know the headcount at Duluth HQ, but they did go through another round of layoffs at both facilities within the past three weeks.

BassMaster said...

StuckinNM your never stuck anywhere my good man! Just go wherever you want.

Checked my info and sure enough the peanut gyro is part of the "stby ind & elect prov pkg". The freakin gyro goes through an ECBU and looks to be powered through the ATT3 CB which is on the Right FWD bus. So unfortunate. Definitely won't be the 'last man standing' should any peripherals go away. Nice try....NOT!

gadfly said...

BassMaster . . . Back in the “Old Days” (of this website, . . . or rather one of its predecessors) I would ask on occasion, “With hands off, would the little bird (meaning our famous Eclipse E500), become stable and go into reasonable level flight?!”(providing that earlier the aircraft had been trimmed out properly). To this day, not even “Ken” would give a straight answer . . . only insults, etc. You see, when all else fails . . . the “glass” goes dark, the vacuum systems fail to suck (Don’t go there . . . already been, and there’s nothing worth bringing back), “seat of the pants” have more ants than common sense, and air-traffic control says “Take your hands off the controls!”, I would want to know that the bird will somehow come back to something resembling a right-side-up aircraft, giving time to figure out what’s going on, and possibly/probably bring all back alive and well.

Speaking of the little bird from ABQ, it has always been my contention that the design was never a stable airframe for the claimed intended purpose. It would be something like asking the “Granville Brothers” to make a family oriented aircraft, with a secondary use as an “air taxi”. Huh? Pass that one by Jimmy Doolittle . . . go back and investigate his comments after he flew the "GeeBee". It's a wonder that he survived to lead the first bombing raid of Tokio in 1942 ("Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo", if you wish). (And yeh, the "gadfly" remembers the day when our family visited some friends in Riverside, and saw the premier showing of that film.)

There’s a great movie, "Signposts Aloft" . . . now available on DVD, put out by the school from which I graduated, “Moody Bible Institute”, . . . actually produced many, many years ago, by Dr. Irwin Moon, of Moody Institute of Science. It deals with trust in instruments (rather than emotions), with some most interesting real-life experiments, and examples, including the “Lady Be Good”, B-24 Liberator, lost . . . and found 12 years later in the Libyan Desert, etc. My wife and I visited “Moody Institute of Science” in Santa Fe Springs, California, during the making of the film . . . and saw the parachute relics, etc., and the various things for making the film. But back to the film . . . a most terrible recording of a man, in a “graveyard spiral” (with passengers on board), recorded I think at LAX, puts the importance of these issues into perspective.

An aircraft, no matter how “refined”, how “high tech”, is only as good as it’s ability to perform its bottom line purpose including the safe transport of its passengers to the final intended destination. Notice: “safe . . . Intended destination”.

The flight-crew must believe their instruments, regardless of their "feelings", . . . the underlying theme of the film.

Having worked the “ramp” and “airfreight” for United Air Lines, there is no way for any system to prevent serious terrorists from achieving their goals . . . except for the fact that most of them are idiots of the lowest intelligence. So your safety is in inverse proportion to their stupidity . . . and I’ll not give them clues.

But back in “our world” where we can do something positive, I’m personally sick and tired of people who think they are designers, and ignore the hard won achievements of days gone bye, and attempt to “leapfrog” some fancy design into the GA future. ‘Ain’t goin’ to happen, No How!

gadfly

(When the “Lady Be Good” was found in 1957, they said that the coffee thermos still had coffee in it . . . and that it had only rained once in the twelve years since the B-24 landed almost undamaged, under “auto-pilot”. I continue to wonder . . . did anyone taste the coffee? . . . and was it good?)

BassMaster said...

Gad it does have positive stability on it's own properly trimmed and loaded. The oscillations that would occur "hands off" may end up selling quite a bit of altitude (so long as a catastrophic overspeed doesn't occur) to get to a happy point but it would eventually get there. It has a good bit of dihedral and if mach tuck was to show up it's game over anyway. Realize though that being a T tail not sure about the stability if the yaw damp went away. Yaw damp is important in T tail configs.

Beedriver said...

cool new amphib. seaplane going into production see www.dornierseaplane.com

6 to 12 passengers, twin turboprop all composite construction good for saltwater operation. certified in 91. It uses sponsons so it will be easy to dock.

they say they have firm orders for 80 or so. at $6 million ea It should fill a niche market where there are only old wwII aluminum airplanes

Jan flying mag has a good article. I saw it at OSH and it was a nice well thought out design.

gadfly said...

BassMaster . . . me thinks you confirm what I already guessed, a few years back, even before I was aware of the "blogsites", etc.. The little jet requires at least some of the systems to be "alive" and functioning to maintain stability in a crisis, otherwise all bets are off. A truly stable aircraft, in my mind, is stable with the loss of all electronic controls . . . and even though it make take hurculean effort to move elevator/rudder/ailerons, etc., a truly stable aircraft can be brought down at most efficient glide speed/ratio/etc., to a nearby landing strip or flat spot. In the case of a six ton brick, the force needed to move airfoils is not the problem . . . it's that sudden stop at the end of "final".

gadfly

BassMaster said...

Gad sorry but it's still a jet. It's certainly more stable than a lear 20 or 30 series but a Piper Cub it is not.

The TSA deal gets even better...the bin laden clan have pilots tickets! Yes the FAA issued ones.

gadfly said...

BassMaster . . . Remember the Caravelle with a glide ratio of about 30:1? Back in olden times I loaded baggage on those beautiful aircraft.

Jet or no, an aircraft without power either flies, or it doesn't.

gadfly

gadfly said...

And before we lose this train of thought, let's take it a step further. If it were only a "jet", for racing or military use, we could justify a power-out glide ratio of a brick . . . and add maybe an ejection system, to allow the pilot a method of escape. But the little bird was to carry passengers, who cannot normally escape in an emergency. Therefore, it is the responsibility of the designer(s) to provide the vehicle with at least a reasonable amount of flying stability, with "power out", to maintain some semblance of control to a flat potentially safe landing. You surely get my drift.

gadfly

baron95 said...

Thanks for the correction, StuckinNM - I jumped the gun, and assumed it was the total HC.

BassMaster said...

Gad don't forget that the plane proved itself to glide very effectively with the Williams engines. VERY few landings were made in those days with both still being lit. I'll look through a POH later and see if I can find specifics for no engine op performance.

Plastic_Planes said...

From the "That'll leave a mark..."

Yesterday, Cessna announced the closing of their Columbus GA facility. This facility has been providing subassemblies (cabins, flight control surfaces, and propellers) to both Wichita and Independence, KS. Last year we had over 650 employees. Recent cuts have dropped that to about half. Now, over the next 6-24 months, work will be transitioned from Columbus to Kansas and Mexico. McCauley Propeller Systems is affected by this as well. Columbus has been home to Cessna and Textron Aerostructures for many years. There have been up and down years, but we've always survived. Now it's time to finally close the doors. Guess I'll hang around a while and start looking again. GA is a business that eats it's young and survives by feeding on itself in lean times. Once again, do I stay or do I go now?

FreedomsJamtarts said...

I never thought the Cirrus aircraft were that great.

They obviously badly missed the target for certifiable stick force gradients, but rather than do aerodynamic corrections to fix the problem (at least Columbia did an aerodynamic solution with those god-aweful aileron servo tabs), Cirrus just installed heavy springs in all three axis.

The result is a plane with no "feel". I don't like it. The accident stats don't appear that great either.

The interior fit and finish is not great new, and quickly deteriorates.

The electrics in the engine compartment are very poorly supported, mostly with only cable ties. I expect that the MRO's will have plenty of work trouble shooting engine indication issues once they have a few years on them.

Will Cirrus survive 2010? Doesn't look much like it, when you consider those financials.

FreedomsJamtarts said...

Baron95, PP's info on Columbus is your trigger to have another anti-union rant.

Please don't disappoint :)

FreedomsJamtarts said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
gadfly said...

BassMaster . . . Thanks for following up. As I recall, the tests with the Williams engines were with an essentially empty fuselage, and about a half ton lighter than the eventual outcome. Also, the wing tips were "clean", etc. However, in spite of all that, I still asked the question "back then", if with "hands off" would the little bird come back to a normal stable attitude . . . with absolutely no active flight controls, etc., operative. We know that many/most light aircraft . . . even a "Bonanza", will "right itself", if a panicked pilot will follow instructions from a flight control center, and take his hands and feet off the controls, and allow the aircraft to return to a more or less stable condition. This question, to my knowledge, has never once been answered . . . possibly because the little bird is not inherently stable, requiring constant input to maintain straight and level flight.

gadfly

baron95 said...

Hi Freedom, I don't think the issue for Cessna in Georgia is a (heavily influenced) union issue.

The issue is that McCauley has stagnated - MT and Hartzell are winning all the OEM deals, and McCauley is being slowly squeezed out.

Couple that with Cessna's new plane volume collapse in 2009, and that facility no longer made sense.

At least Cessna (or Textron) is taking action, rather than "Hope/expect and improvement", which seems to be all that Jack can do.

baron95 said...

Plastic Planes - head to Spirit in South Carolina - you may end up building the biggest plastic plane ever, very soon ;)

Plastic_Planes said...

Baron said:
Plastic Planes - head to Spirit in South Carolina - you may end up building the biggest plastic plane ever, very soon ;)

Baron,

Many of my friends headed to Charleston in the last few months. They've been recruiting heavily, but I'm not sure I want to get into the "bigs" again. Been there, done that.

McCauley has always been much more conservative than Hartzell, butnit has paid off in consistently better service lives and significantly lower field actions. There have been exceptions, though. I think Hartzell is on the right track with the composite propellers and if they (McC) want to stay in the game, they need to get on the stick.

75-80% of McCauley's output went to OEMs and other shops. Very little of it went to Cessna. I always thought McCauley would be a better fit for Textron Systems (Lycoming et. al.) but nobody asked me.

Since almost 1/2 my career has dealt with composites of some sort, maybe I need to start looking again.

The big B? Maybe, maybe not...

To be continued...

P_P

Plastic_Planes said...

BTW,

In spite of all the drop in volume at Cessna this year, McCauley has maintained pretty high margins and pretty good sales.

McC was only ~15% of Columbus. The problem was the other side of the business (pots and pans).

P_P

gadfly said...

It's easy to think that the new computer age can solve all problems, yet there is much to be learned from watching . . . truly observing and learning some things from long ago, when the very lives and reputations were clearly "on the line" with new ennovations in the advancement of general aviation. This was recently brought to my attention:

http://www.airportappraisals.com/qualifications/

Watch it and "enjoy"! Who knows . . . maybe you'll learn some valuable lessons.

gadfly

gadfly said...

It's easy to think that the new computer age can solve all problems, yet there is much to be learned from watching . . . truly observing and learning some things from long ago, when the very lives and reputations were clearly "on the line" with new innovations in the advancement of general aviation. This was recently brought to my attention:

http://www.airportappraisals.com/qualifications/

Watch it and "enjoy"! Who knows . . . maybe you'll learn some valuable lessons.

gadfly

(And quite frankly, having a set of valves and steam gages isn't really all that far off from a complete cockpit . . . in addition to a fancy "LCD" display. Frankly, I'd hate to bet my life on the life expectancy of a flourescent "back-light" . . . they have been known to fail.) (Don'tcha know!)

gadfly said...

Watching this four part video . . . and considering the time in history, we have a much better understanding of the mind-set . . . what? . . . about eigthty years ago? Lindbergh went on to some rather not-so-great opinions and suggestions, as he gave verbal applause to "Hermann Göring", etc., and the Nazi movement that would soon envelope our nation and the entire world, regardless of personal attitudes. But in a sense, he "redeemed" himself, in contributing to long distance flying/fuel control . . . that was most useful when the squadron of P-38's precisely intercepted our greatest Naval enemy, Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto, and put an end to the career of our Japanese adversary.

You young folks may not appreciate the value of history . . . recent or ancient, but your very existence depends on what we learn from it.

This documentary of "Lindbergh" is a minor part, yet without it, history . . . all history would be different.

gadfly

(There have been times when I could have wished to sit down with Admiral Yamamoto . . . and entered into a friendly discussion over the events of "back then", and his time at Harvard University, . . . his thoughts over the events of the day . . . but that's the trouble with history, you have to take it as it happened, and deal with the results. And hopefully not repeat the mistakes. Fat chance!)

BassMaster said...

Gad getting back as promised. Rev 1 of AFM from 2008 shows best both eng inop speed of 121 @ 5995lb gear and flaps up. "Expect a glide ratio of 2nm/1000ft alt"...so figure a bit better than 12:1. Not bad! Don't know if this is with aeromods but don't think that would make much of a difference.

I think I understand what you are getting at but if you put any high perf plane into a graveyard spiral and go hands off (assuming proper trim...which is hard to do given the wide speed envelope that would be experienced is such circumstance), your going to need a great deal of altitude (many mistakes high) to arrive at an equilibrium of lift to weight and speed to drag....and still all bets would be off in that situation. Now....if your not already in an entirely upset attitude the chances only get better. The yaw damp helps but the e500 CAN do without as the dutch roll may not be as bad as a swept wing planform. Remember that the e500 effectively has forward sweep (at least if your going by max chord) even with the straight LE although minimal.

Bottom line my wise fellow blogger, and Sir I do mean that "wise" part, is that it's not an Ercoupe nor is it a trainer. It's a VLJ...and can certainly be considered high performance just as a Bonanza with a big engine, retracts and adjustable prop.

With respect I'll say you may be nitpicking a bit at the jet's stability characteristics. It IS positively stable. Inherently stable? What is the difference?

As a kid I too enjoyed model airplanes. They all had inherently stable characteristics if built and balanced correctly. Nowadays I prefer a neutrally stable .60 glow powered old school (70's) turnaround pattern RC plane that simply goes where I point it @ 120mph and does nothing on it's own...but I digress...

We don't put our families in model planes so forgive me.

julius said...

gadfly,

IIRC, I read an article saying that the fpj would need a lot of trimming in case of minor changes (thrust , attitude). But once stablized, after a short disturbance the fpj would normally return to the original attidude.

But the manually flown flights were perform blow FL300! There were no comments on a manually flown "test" emergency descend from above FL300, the typical fpj area!

Julius

gadfly said...

BassMaster . . . At least you're using your brain as God intended. There are no certain answers in all this discussion, but to ignore the possibilities, the probabilities, is to court disaster.

For instance, it is my impression that the control system on the little jet requires a "powered" control system. Yet my own Dad's system, a completely "cable" control system up through the "B-47/B-52" program (and well into the many Boeing and Douglas commercial aircraft) did not require power boost to maintain control. In other words, it was still possible to maintain control even in the event of total failure of all auxilliary power systems. Now, the little jet is hardly in the same category of these classic military aircraft, built over a half century earlier, yet it would seem that it is incapable of maintaining control, with the loss of basic auxilliary power. That, to me, is inexcusable.

Well, I'm attempting to make sense of when modern technology makes sense over basic/simple systems, that have given us a century of proven reliability. 'Just to use modern technology for the sake of using modern technology . . . maybe not smart!

gadfly

(Thomas Edison gave us a "screw in bulb" . . . still works. How to improve on it!)

gadfly said...

julius . . . the important thing that is going on here is not that you or I, or "BassMaster" has the answer, but that we're thinking bout the basic things that should have been foremost in those in charge at Eclipse in the early days, instead of how to get their hands on the funds of prospective customers. By now, all that history is in the hands of lawyers, etc., and hopefully will come to some good.

But, julius, there is still the possibility/probability of designing a jet that can recover, by itself, from any attitude . . . even above thirty or forty thousand feet, and give those aboard a reasonable opportunity to recover control and possibly land without serious incident. Not possible? . . . I do not believe that for an instant.

Most of my life, and that of my father for his brief time on earth, has been involved in saving lives . . . his work was in aircraft control systems, still in everyday use around the world, including his inertial restraint systems known and used by most flight crews. It is a normal/natural transition into inherent flight stability . . . not that difficult, as you and I know from designing/building/flying gliders, etc., from the time we could first cut balsa sheets and put them together with "Testers" or "Ambroid" cement.

Of course, to most, this actually exceeds "rocket science" and goes into that rarified realm of "common sense" and inborn ability, seemingly a rare commodity in today's world.

Forward swept wings (effectively the E500) is not inherently stable . . . no big mystery. From there we go in the obvious directions . . . dihedral, sweep-back, etc. . . . and make intelligent (another rare commodity these days) judgement in compromises as to all the other variables involved. We have volumes on each and every limit . . . we simply use our God given intelligence and work within the rather well known envelope of design . . . pushing this way or that, to customize the aircraft for the final intended purpose. Unfortunately, the "E500" attempted to go in all directions and exceed known limits, all at once. Somehow, I picture a "cat fight", with no winners.

The "E500" has nothing new, and repeats many earlier mistakes with a veneer that covers a total lack of basic understanding of aerodynamics, manufacturing, modern technology, metallurgy, etc., etc., . . . ad nauseum.

gadfly

(Remember . . . nothing in this problem is outside the parameters already understood from the mid 1940's up through the next two or three decades, aside from "glass displays" and solid state circuits. I still use a Zenith eleven band transistor radio every day ( It's 46 years old, and actully made in Chicago, USA) and I built my first transistor radio (receiver, to be precise . . . a radio by definition both transmits and receives) in 1958 . . . so "solid state" cannot be claimed as a "new thing".

BassMaster said...

Gad the primary lateral and longitudinal flight control is via pushrod, bellcrank and cable from the stick to the elev/ail and vertically from the pedals to the rudder via bellcrank and cable. The brakes are pure top pedal with nothing to come between pedal pressure and that exerted by the calipers. The autopilot servos are on secondary cable loops that in turn connect to the primaries via common bellcranks. The servos are clutched and failsafe loose. The nosewheel steering is simple mechanical with no servos or speed dependent reduction devices.

I shouldn't have brought fwd sweep into this as it's irrelevant in our dialogue of stability in this context. Research has shown advantages otherwise but they are far from applicable to the aircraft in question.

The wing is far from supercritical or even laminar because of various tolerance stackups (and evolutions) of the de-ice boots.

The e500 is a simple airframe. Trims are electric...and we know of some incidents in the past. These were quality escapes...asking actuators for more than their design duty cycle.

The yaw damp is simple through the use of the yaw AP servo. It's not the end of the world without it. I dare say that pilot induced oscillation is reason #1 for having the yaw damper system. No mystery there.

The plane was never advertised as a craft that can recover from FL410 with it's tail ripped off. I'm still not sure where you want to go with this.

gadfly said...

BassMaster . . . You have gone further than all the many times I have asked question in the past. If I had one more question it would be if at any time the aircraft was taken to some reasonable altitude (whatever that might be), put into various attitudes with power at idle, and allowed to "right" itself, if it could. Beyond that, don't worry . . . having the tail ripped off isn't within the requirements.

Thanks for your excellent information.

gadfly

BassMaster said...

Gad, the "one more question" is your original question as I understand it. Only the test pilots can REALLY answer it...and I'm not one of them. Unfortunately the pilots that used to frequent this blog that have enough time in his/her jet to possibly give some real world examples haven't been around lately. They've been asked to stay away. Can't blame them anyway with all the political discussion. Those pilot's experiences have typically been conveyed to us in such manner as to raise more questions than answers nonetheless, minus the various interesting flight report here and there.

If an experienced e500 pilot WERE to come to this blog and discuss idle power recovery and stability at various altitudes/attitudes there would be many bloggers that would question that pilots intentions and/or abilities along with quoting FARs etc. I think you get my point.

BassMaster said...

Correction: FWD sweep was mentioned relative to chord...wrong. Should be relative to max thickness.

baron95 said...

Look for a 787 first flight as early as this Friday or the weekend.

Getting really close now.

baron95 said...

Boeing will contract with suppliers outside the Puget Sound area to produce all 787 parts, so that its second Dreamliner production line in Charleston, S.C. can operate independently, the company announced Monday.

Labor issues are a factor in the decision, according to Boeing spokesman Jim Proulx. He told The Seattle Times that by adding a second supplier for every part, Boeing could continue to build the Dreamliner even if Washington-area machinists went on strike. "Repeated labor disruptions have affected our performance in our customers' eyes," Proulx told the paper. "We have to show our customers we can be a reliable supplier to them." The South Carolina production line "has to be able to go on regardless of what's happening over here," he added.

baron95 said...

Sorry - above was on aero news net.

Well done IAM - this is the beginning of your permanent replacement. You have a couple more decades to play, though.

Phil Bell said...

New headline post is up.

Involving "disruption" that has not been seen for several generations.

Thankfully.

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