Pilot Reports

Join AIN pilots/writers as they test fly business jets, turboprops, rotorcraft, and airliners featuring the latest technology from the world’s airframe, engine, and avionics manufacturers. From fly-by-wire flight controls to touchscreen flight decks and sophisticated satcoms, these are the aircraft that make the aerospace industry fly.

Citation Longitude
Oct 23, 2018 - 6:27 AM
AIN flies the longest Citation as it nears certification.

Textron Aviation’s super-midsize Longitude, the largest Citation yet, is about to enter service. Just before certification, I flew twice in the new Longitude, the first time in the cabin and the second up front on the flight deck.

This was the fifth flight-test vehicle Longitude, which had completed all flight test activities and is now a demonstrator equipped with a production interior. It was a typically warm summer day in Wichita with puffy scattered clouds above 10,000 feet, but otherwise clear with excellent visibility.

G500 in flight
Aug 24, 2018 - 7:00 AM
Gulfstream engineers have designed an airplane that pilots will love and that maximizes comfort for passengers

The recently certified G500 represents a leap forward in flight deck and flight control interface design, a bold move for a manufacturer as conservative as Gulfstream yet also a logical progression in business jet design. The G500 is a delight to fly, a significant step up in handling compared to the non-fly-by-wire (FBW) designs (G550 and below). And the many touchscreens that run the avionics and systems feel as natural as wings on airplanes.

Bell 4017GXi in flight
Aug 16, 2018 - 6:44 AM
Garmin elevates the Bell 407GXi experience

Standing on the right-hand side of a Bell 407GXi, I leaned in to see what—upon first glance—looked strikingly similar to Garmin's G1000H flight deck. The screens, powered off, had barely a streak on their glass, and this was my first reminder that I was indeed looking at something new. As soon as the screens came to life, it became apparent that these were more powerful Garmin displays.

Piaggio Avanti Evo in flight
Jul 18, 2018 - 5:43 AM
Pusherprop delivers smooth, stylish ride

The P.180 Avanti Evo has a “wow” factor that is not present with many other twin turboprops of a similar size. Yes, it does have three lifting surfaces, a T-tail and two pusher propellers but it’s how they are put together that is the important thing. The forward wing (not to be called a canard, as it has no moving flight controls other than forward flaps) is positioned on the underside of a gracefully sweeping nose and is home to two pitot tubes underneath and, unusually in Western types, has a significant anhedral.

Challenger 350 in flight
May 24, 2018 - 9:57 AM
The super-midsize model is as fun to fly in as it is to fly.

The best way to experience a business jet’s capabilities is to spend some time not only flying it but also sitting in the cabin during a cross-country trip to get the full passenger flavor. A trip and demo flight in Bombardier’s best-selling super-midsize Challenger 350 afforded an opportunity for both experiences, starting with a flight from Las Vegas to Hartford, Connecticut, followed by a local flight out of Bradley International Airport where Bombardier’s demo team is headquartered and also the site of one of Bombardier’s largest factory service centers.

Cabri 2 on ramp
Mar 30, 2018 - 10:22 AM
The two-seat trainer boosts pilots’ confidence.

Armed with a flight instructor’s typical toolbox of an expansive whiteboard, dry erase markers, and a computer projected flight manual, Laurent Coulon, a Hélicoptères Guimbal Cabri G2 factory pilot, held court over a captivated audience at Precision Helicopters in Oregon. Precision hosted Coulon along with Cabri instructors and pilots for a multi-day advanced training course designed to provide the first factory equivalent training session in the United States.

Mar 19, 2018 - 9:19 AM
The light single builds improves on the 206’s performance.

In mid-January, 20-degree temperatures in Texas coupled with substantial wind gusts and the threat of snow almost placed me directly in the right seat of a Bell 505 simulator instead of the real helicopter. But with conditions improving upon my arrival at Bell’s Fort Worth, Texas factory, it was announced, with great relief to me, that the flight in Bell’s 505 Jet Ranger X would take place as planned.

Gulfstream G280 on ramp
Feb 9, 2018 - 8:20 AM
The super-midsize jet offers a smooth, quiet ride

Although the G280 traces its heritage to North American Rockwell, Galaxy Aerospace and Israel Aerospace Industries (which manufactures the airframe), the super-midsize jet is all Gulfstream, from the design of the wing to the elegantly equipped cabin and the outstanding performance that pilots have come to expect from the Savannah, Georgia, manufacturer.

Vision Jet fueling
Nov 28, 2017 - 8:13 AM
Cirrus’s Vision Jet delivers on the promise of excellent performance, handling, and a spacious comfortable cabin.

In June 2007, Cirrus Aircraft unveiled the configuration of its new single-engine jet. At the time, it appeared as though Cirrus was jumping on the same bandwagon as other would-be or existing aircraft manufacturers. The apparent market for a single-engine jet, if all the prognostications were to be believed, was going to soar, part of the then-current hype projecting huge fleets of very light jets about to clog up the world’s airspace.

Oct 8, 2017 - 2:00 AM
While the G650ER maxes out at more than 100,000 pounds, the largest Gulfstream handles like a much lighter airplane.

Just nine years after Gulfstream Aerospace unveiled its largest and longest-range business jet—the G650—and five years after certification, 250 G650s, 120 of them the ultra-long-range G650ER, are plying the world’s skies.

To say that Gulfstream’s timing could not have been better would be an understatement. The G650 tapped into a market that was shying away from smaller jets and eager for a large-cabin ultra-long-range jet that could connect city pairs never before considered.