Archive for January, 2013

Debonair Sweeps: It’s Official:New N-number!

Tuesday, January 15th, 2013

So far, the sweepstakes Debonair goes by N232L. That’s OK, but we needed to put a little more spark in the registration number. Something that would resonate with the notion of a sweepstakes. AOPA has done this with each of its past sweepstakes airplanes, so last December yours truly searched for a catchy N-number.

This entails going on the FAA’s registry website and plugging in the N-number(s) you wish you could have. And I tried a bunch. In all, I spent perhaps two hours thinking up cool N-numbers, submitting the requests, then almost immediately receiving the bad news: “N-number already in use.” When I reached burnout on this seemingly dead-end task, I asked the rest of the staff to take a whack at it.

Al Marsh rolled the dice and came up a winner. He picked a great N-number, and it wasn’t taken!

So I applied, paid the $10 registration fee, and the deed was done. When the airplane reaches the paint-job stage, it will have its paperwork changed and the new N-number will grace the fuselage. It will be N232L no more.

It will be N75YR

What’s the significance? Well, the Debonair will be given away at AOPA Summit in Palm Springs in 2014. That year happens to be AOPA’s 75th anniversary, hence “75YR.” Pretty cool, no?


Debonair Sweeps: Enter the iPad

Tuesday, January 8th, 2013

No doubt about it, iPad mania has made its mark in general aviation. The Debonair Sweepstakes is certainly no exception. Santa Fe Aero Services, our avionics installer, has made a special panel insert for an iPad Mini–a piece of equipment that will serve many valuable functions.

First off, the Mini will be continuously powered while it’s docked in the panel, so there’s no worries about its batteries going dead at some critical time at the end of a flight. We’ve all heard the horror stories about iPad batteries giving up the ghost just as the final approach fix is crossed, or when issued holding instructions prior to an approach. Well, that ain’t gonna happen in the Debonair. And even if it did, there will be two USB charging ports in the Deb’s panel to power the Mini–or an iPod or any other such device for that matter.

The Mini can also display electronic charts–a big enough benefit on its own merits. And with geo-referencing, you’ll be able to “see” the airplane’s progress on an electronic chart as it flies a route or procedure.

Another benefit ties into Aspen’s Connected Panel technology. This forward-looking feature will allow aviation apps on the Mini to talk to the three-screen Aspen Evolution 2500 panel and other avionics. Here, the promise is great. Engine diagnostics may one day be logged into specially-designed apps. Routes filed at home on the Mini will some day soon be sent to the Aspen system wirelessly, sparing the lucky winner the frantic hassle of manually dialing in fixes immediately before taking off. These and other wireless data feeds are just over the horizon–but they’ll be playable in the Debonair.

Wireless technology like Aspen’s Connect Panel is the future of GA cockpit design, and Aspen is to be congratulated on making this move. We’re proud that the sweepstakes Debonair will be one of the first major Connected Panel demonstrators.

The Mini is also a backup source of ADS-B traffic and FIS-B weather information. True, the Debonair will have Garmin’s GDL 88 dual-channel datalink transceiver, and the targets and text it receives will show up on the Garmin GTN 750’s big-screen display. The Mini can serve as a backup to the GDL 88’s data, but because the 88 can’t output to a portable device we added Garmin’s GDL 39 datalink antenna to the mix, which is designed to feed ADS-B data directly to Garmin’s Garmin Pilot app. And yes, that app is currently the prime mover on the Deb’s Mini.

The Garmin Pilot app has a lot more than electronic charts. There’s Garmin’s SafeTaxi, which can show your position on more than 900 airports, text and graphic weather, high- and low-altitude enroute charts for flights on instrument flight plans, sectional charts for the entire United States and Canada, and flight planning functions.

There’s a lot more to say about this very special Debonair’s panel, and we’ll touch on all of them in upcoming blogs. Stay tuned!