Richard Rockefeller, the grandson of oil industry leader John D. Rockefeller, died last Friday morning when the Piper Meridian single-engine turboprop he was piloting crashed shortly after takeoff from New York’s Westchester County (HPN) Airport. Weather at the time was reported as low clouds with drizzle. The pilot did not communicate with ATC before the crash.
There were two major developments in the business turboprop sector this year and neither involved new aircraft. However, they did show where potentially the next growth area is for the turboprop market: downstream. Turboprops historically have been a useful vehicle for introducing new customers into the corporate aircraft market, provided operators can maintain price discipline. If not, bad things can happen. Case in point: after several years of public struggle, Piaggio Avanti fractional provider Avantair ceased operations in June.
Piper is demonstrating two aircraft from its range here at the LABACE show: a Seneca V and a Meridian. The display is being undertaken in conjunction with J.P. Martins Aviacão, the authorized local Piper dealer.
DAC International has received FAA parts manufacturer approval for its GDC62 radio altimeter interface unit and the GDC66 fuel quantity adapter unit. These converters, developed specifically for the Piper Meridian, permit the continued use of the existing radio altimeter and fuel quantity computer and are required for the G950 cockpit retrofit STC owned by Cutter Aviation. DAC International’s engineering and certification division achieved the approvals in partnership with Cutter Aviation.
Cutter Aviation received FAA STC approval for installation of Garmin G950 retrofit avionics in Piper Meridians with either the original Meggitt or Avidyne EFIS systems. The retrofit includes a new, custom-engineered panel and glareshield, providing a cleaner and more modern panel design. The package features two or three 12-inch Garmin displays (single primary flight display and single multifunction display or dual PFD/single MFD). Additionally, the G950 system incorporates the S-Tec IntelliFlight/Magic 1500 autopilot.
Piper Aircraft named Piper Summit Aircraft China Beijing as its authorized dealer in China for sales of new Meridian turboprop singles. According to Piper Summit CEO Jack Chan, the annual growth rate for piston and turboprop aircraft operating in China is nearly 40 percent, with this fleet expected to expand from 1,700 aircraft earlier this year to about 7,700 by 2015. The new Piper dealer conducted Meridian demonstrations for potential customers as the airplane flew en route to Airshow China 2012 earlier this month in Zhuhai.
After years of rumors about development of a fast, low-wing, single-engine turboprop, Cessna unveiled an aircraft interior mock-up in July to solicit prospective customer interest and opinion, gathering more than 350 detailed surveys during EAA AirVenture in Oshkosh, Wis. While Cessna has not decided if it will move forward with the aircraft, spokesman Andy Woodward said the company was “very encouraged” by the positive feedback the concept has received to date.
Piper Aircraft delivered its 500th Meridian turboprop single last week. The milestone aircraft was handed over to SouthEast Piper for delivery to the aircraft’s undisclosed Florida-based owner. “The delivery of the 500th Piper Meridian, since first delivery in 2000, emphasizes its enduring value proposition even during recent periods of economic uncertainty around the world,” said Piper president and CEO Simon Caldecott. “Single-engine Piper turboprops are growing in popularity as replacements for less economical twin-engine jets and turboprops.”
Avidyne is close to obtaining certification of its DFC90 autopilot interface with Aspen’s EFD1000 PFD. Avidyne and Aspen Avionics demonstrated Avidyne’s new digital autopilot interfaced with Aspen’s EFD1000 Pro primary flight display (PFD) last month 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.
Avidyne is nearing certification of an interface between its DFC90 autopilot and Aspen’s EFD1000. Avidyne and Aspen Avionics are demonstrating Avidyne’s new digital autopilot interfaced with Aspen’s EFD1000 Pro primary flight display (PFD) at Sun ’n’ Fun in two flight-test aircraft: a Cessna 182 and a Cirrus SR22. The DFC90 is currently certified in the Cirrus and the Piper PA-46 equipped with Avidyne Entegra displays.
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