Al Marsh Archive

Piper to announce new aircraft

Thursday, March 12th, 2015

Actually Piper will “announce” two new aircraft. The more secretive of the two is the Piper Meridian M600, unearthed by Australian aviation writers after a tip from a reader about a new trademark that Piper filed. The betting is that this latest Meridian will have a 600-shaft-horsepower engine to make it fly closer to 300 knots, and maybe an extra seat. The competition has that sort of speed and that extra seat. The other announcement is already on the Piper Web site and has been there for quite some time, just waiting for its diesel engine to be approved. It’s the Archer DX, and it will use the same Thielert/Continental/Technify (take your choice) CD155-horsepower engine as the Cessna 172. The Piper Archer DX is close to getting its supplemental type certificate, but the process must begin anew for the Cessna 172. Industry sources believe it will be “days” before the Piper STC is approved (the owner buys it separately from Thielert/Continental/Technify), which means it could be weeks in FAA time. With Cessna, the STC comes with the aircraft.

Welcome, drone pilots!

Sunday, February 15th, 2015

Think you have all the ratings? If newly proposed FAA rules on drones get approved–it will take two years–as written, there will be a new type of “pilot” certificate (only required for commercial drone use) called Unmanned Aerial Systems Operator. (Can “Rocket Pilot” be far behind?) Most rule comment periods are 60 days, but apparently that limitation has been tossed away. Here’s the good news. An early draft of the regulations says you need to go to a Knowledge Test Center to take the written test. No previous flying experience, medical certificate, or pilot certificate is required. It must be repeated every two years. If you are already a pilot, you still have to get a UAS operator certificate. First there is an application process. You have to be 17 or older. Following that applicants must visit a flight instructor who signs them off for the written test. All this means we have a pool of potential pilots coming to the airport soon, since that is where many Knowledge Test Centers are located. Do you suppose if we treat them as one of the pilot community, they might actually become private pilots? How many will there be? We can be a lot more optimistic than the FAA. The FAA thinks there will only be 7,500 commerical-use drone pilots in the United States five years after the drone regs take effect. I just checked a Web photography site called SLR (single-lens reflex) Lounge Beta, and I believe the estimate I found there that there are 100,000 wedding photographers out there who want to be competitive, so could there be 20,000 who might want to get a certificate? Now then, the National Association of Realtors said in 2007 there were two million real estate agents in the United States working for 109,000 firms. A few thousand firms may want their own drone, or at least sign a contract with a local drone pilot. So, another 10,000? We’re leaving out a bunch of industries here that may send people to the local Knowledge Test Center. Welcome to aviation, folks.

Editor’s note: You can get more details about the proposed rule and AOPA’s position on safely integrating drones into the National Airspace System in the story, “Proposed rules set limits on small UAS.”

Where are our future pilots?

Friday, January 30th, 2015

12 14Look at the general age group in these DJI (a company that makes drones) photos posted on the drone company’s Web site. Aren’t these the youthful crowd we wanted in general aviation? And where are they? In drone pilot school. Should be a snap for those of us who are already pilots, right? You too can attend drone pilot school. It’s only one day. Select “North America” in the link above under “Select A Region” to see the schedule. DJI, the largest drone maker in the world which manufactured the drone that ended up in a White House tree, offers the school. They want to sell drones and they want to make sure you know the rules, one of which is, don’t drink and drone. If sober, you are more likely to remember you can’t fly a drone in D.C. Classes are worldwide, but  classes for the United States include Boston and Riverdale, Maryland on Feb. 7, and classes later this year in Miami; Englewood, Colorado; Raleigh, North Carolina; Philadephia; and Salt Lake City. Remember, friends don’t let friends drone drunk. Ok, so drone enthusiasts worldwide are stampeding toward drones. And what do we do to get them to stampede to the local airport?

 

Crazy formations

Monday, December 15th, 2014

You can see Jetman Yves Rossi in formation with an aerobatic airplane flown by aerobatics champion Veres Zoltán while it is performing stunts here. In 2015 Rossi will fly in formation with Zoltán, who will swap out his airplane for a wing strapped to his back with jet motors on it that were built for model airplanes like Rossi has, and you will see that they have already practiced their new act at the end of this video. Or, in an unrelated event done by a different set of pilots, you can see an aerobatic airplane fly in formation with a parachute guy here.

Your flying car will be ready soon

Thursday, October 30th, 2014

AeroMobile 3.0UPDATE 3/17/2015: AeroMobil says it can deliver this flying car in 2017.)

Original article 10/2014. Yeah, right. The Sovakian AeroMobil 3.0 flying car has made another splash in the news by appearing at another trade conference, the most recent one being the Pioneers Festival at Vienna’s Hofburg Palace. The first public presentation was in 2007 at Aero-Friedrichshafen in Germany.  You can see a video about the car here  (four minutes, cue the eerie music). The prototype actually works, doing 100 mph on the ground and a promised 124 mph in the air. The price (you can’t get one yet) is said to be like that of a super luxury car, which leaves one guessing. A 2014 Lamborghini is $200,000 if you get the one intended for poor people, or $548,800 if you get the Lamborghini Aventador which of course would be first choice for most of us. I’ll bet the AeroMobil would fit aboard your private luxury Boeing 747, which actually WILL be ready soon (April in Hamburg). Anyway, good luck AeroMobil, and while I’m at it, good luck to the following flying car companies: Terrafugia, Maverick, Parajet SkyRunner, Pegase (from Vaylon in France), Krossblade AerospaceMoller Skycar, and Fresh Breeze  (flying motorcycle) of Germany. And an additional shoutout to the good folks at Martin  Jetpack in New Zealand. Best of luck to everyone.

Your private Boeing 747 will be ready soon

Friday, October 24th, 2014

Lufthansa Technik is the Cadillac of interior design when it comes to lavish, wildly over the top luxury interiors for private airliners. There are two of this particular $480 million aircraft (including interior) in progress at Hamburg, Germany, and will be completed by spring. Don’t miss out!

Red Bull race in Las Vegas is this weekend

Friday, October 10th, 2014

Takes awhile to figure out this publicity photo for the Red Bull Race in Las Vegas this weekend. The lower half of the photo is a reflection of the formation. Kirby Chambliss, Nigel Lamb of England, Pete McLeod of Canada and Martin Sonka of the Czech Republic flew above Lake Mead, the country’s largest reservoir.  Click on it to enlarge.

Pete McLeod (CAN), Nigel Lamb (GBR), Martin Sonka (CZE) and Kirby Chambliss (USA) - Recon Flight

Gulfstream set to announce new jet

Wednesday, October 8th, 2014

Aerospace consultant Brian Foley of Brian Foley Associates predicts Gulfstream Aerospace will be the “talk of the town” next Tuesday Oct. 14 when the company summons aviation reporters to its Savannah headquarters for a major announcement. That announcement will be the mysterious P42 project, the Gulfstream 450 replacement. The current 10-year-old 450 program is a 4,350 nautical mile, 16-passenger, Mach 0.88 aircraft with a maximum weight of 74,600 pounds. If Foley is correct, Gulfstream promises to be the star of the upcoming National Business Aviation Association convention in Orlando starting Oct. 21. It won’t be just about the new jet but how the jet is made using modern technology.

There are good reasons to assume Foley is correct. J.P. Morgan’s Joseph B. Nadoll III said last year that Gulfstream would put off a launch of its G450 replacement (code named P42) until next year. It did. Gulfstream execs began hinting in August of 2014 at the Latin American Business Aviation Conference that they might unveil the P42 project soon. It will be a family of jets. Pre-announcing is a break with the “big surprise” theory of public relations still followed by most jet companies that wait for NBAA or some other major conference to reveal the news.

What will all the other companies be doing? Foley gave this rundown. Cessna (owned by Textron Aviation to include Beechcraft) is working on previously announced jet programs, as is Dassault. Bombardier seems caught up by internal turmoil and changes in management, and may not even finish some of the projects previously announced. Embraer has its “work cut out for it,” Foley said, building previously announced aircraft. (Gulfstream, the stage is yours.)

Something to look for is a coming transformation in engine fuel efficiency (15% improvement) based on technology already in use by the airlines, Foley said. He predicted one of the airframe companies will “grab the technology and run with it.” Whether it’s this year or five years from now, it will happen, he said.

Boeing 737 side-by-side with A380

Friday, March 28th, 2014

Here’s an interesting perspective on an Airbus A380 and a Boeing 737 making parallel approaches into Los Angeles. Boeing, how small thou art!

Has Lycoming got a diesel?

Tuesday, February 18th, 2014

Lycoming isn’t saying much, but General Atomics Aeronautical Systems has said several times that it is testing a 205-horsepower Lycoming DEL-120 diesel engine on one of its military drones, the Improved Gray Eagle. Lycoming has said in the past that while it has shown interest in development of diesel engines, the time isn’t right. That hasn’t changed. AvWeb’s Paul Bertorelli says Lycoming may just be republishing the DieselJet FIAT 170-horsepower engine intended for cars as a 205-horsepower drone engine. The need for a new engine, he says, was driven by the sale of Thielert, the previous engine provider for the Gray Eagle, to China. The U.S. Army doesn’t want to depend on China for its military engines. While Lycoming’s (Fiat’s?) drone engine gives Lycoming additional experience, it may continue to wait until diesel engines for manned aircraft look like a good business decision. This all came up a few days ago after Andre duCros published an item  in his DieselAir newsletter.