Enhanced Aircraft Roll Out at Sun ’n’ Fun

 - March 27, 2012, 1:33 PM

The annual Sun ’n’ Fun light aircraft convention opened today in Lakeland, Fla., with product-enhancement announcements from several exhibitors.  Cessna will add optional flight into known icing (FIKI) capability to its Corvalis TTX high-performance piston single through an integrated wet system molded into the aircraft’s composite wings. The FIKI system will allow flight into known icing for approximately 2.5 hours. Cessna also announced that Garmin’s GTS 800 traffic alert system (TAS) will now be standard new equipment on the 172, 182 and 206 piston singles.

Daher-Socata continues to evaluate possible follow-on aircraft to its TBM850 turboprop single, including the moribund Grob SPn twin utilijet, but president Nicholas Chabbert told AIN no decision has been made yet and neither has a timetable for a decision been revealed. If a decision is made to develop a new aircraft, the company “would not go it alone,” Chabbert said, adding that the company might seek an airframe partner, a finance partner or both as part of the effort. He said the move toward developing a new aircraft has made “progress.”

He continued, “We are still debating what aircraft would be the solution and we are still talking to the owner of the asset [Grob].”

Today the company did unveil a new 6-2-4 combi Elite interior for the TBM850 that features two certified 21g forward-facing seats behind the pilot positions and an expanded cargo area with a new certified net in place of the two aft seats in the traditional six-place interior. Other new features now available on the TBM850 include carbon-fiber trim and metal plating on various parts of the interior, long-range KHF 1050 HF radio and Garmin GSR 56 Iridium satellite transceiver. The aircraft will also be available with newly extended warranties covering the airframe for 1,000 hours or five years and Garmin, L3 and Honeywell avionics for five years. 

Quest is partnering with Northrop Grumman to develop a special-mission version of its Kodiak single-engine utility turboprop called the Air Claw. A prototype is expected to fly by July. Quest also said it is offering several enhancements to the Garmin G1000 avionics on the Kodiak, including Taws and air-conditioning inhibiting. Air conditioning will automatically be inhibited during certain engine and generator power conditions. The Kodiak’s G1000 can also be equipped with the GTS 800 traffic awareness system and a SAR package that functions with synthetic vision.

Extra Aircraft has placed on hold plans to open a U.S. production facility for its EA-500 single-engine turboprop as it pursues full FAA certification. It also has killed plans to deliver the aircraft to U.S. customers with German certification, said company president Ken Keith. Keith told AIN that U.S. certification efforts have been under way for 16 months and that he expects the company will complete the process by July.

Hawker Beechcraft plans to begin deliveries of an upgraded version of the G36 Bonanza piston single in June. The $775,000 six-seater on display at Sun ’n’ Fun features Garmin G1000 avionics and a premium leather interior with resculpted seats, new headliner and sidewalls and more robust air conditioning with automatic climate control. The system features an engine-driven compressor and condenser and evaporator units installed in the tail cone.

Finally, Avidyne is nearing certification of an interface between its DFC90 autopilot and Aspen’s EFD1000. Avidyne and Aspen Avionics are demonstrating the combo in two flight-test aircraft: a Cessna 182 and a Cirrus SR22. The DFC90 is currently certified in Cirrus SRs and Piper PA-46s equipped with Avidyne Entegra displays. Aspen holds an approved model list supplemental type certificate (AML-STC) for the Evolution Pro PFD on a range of aircraft, which it is amending to add the new DFC90-compatible v2.6 software.  Avidyne and Aspen also confirmed plans to seek certification for DFC90/Aspen PFD configurations in other models, including a Beech Bonanza certification program in this year’s second quarter.