All posts tagged 'Cessna'

High-Wing Vs. Low-Wing Aircraft

One of the first things an aspiring pilot learns is that not all aircraft are created equal. At least, not in the eyes of other pilots. It doesn’t take very many conversations with a pilot to find out exactly what type of aircraft they love and hate. Some pilots have good reasons for preferring one type over another, while others just have a soft spot for a certain type they trained in or became infatuated with.

The disagreements cover a variety of aircraft types. Tailwheel verses nose gear, retractable versus fixed gear, G1000 versus the historic six-pack. Each of these has been debated between pilots for years and I’m sure they will continue to be debated. Another popular category is high-wing verses low-wing aircraft. I personally have a preference for high-wing, as the vast majority of my flight time has been in Cessna 172s and a Stinson 10A.

I was curious what the general consensus was on where the best location for the wings is, so I took to the Internet and… Found no clear answer. It seems that there are pros and cons to both configurations, and it almost always boiled down to preference over hard facts. I have compiled a few major things to consider if you are in the scenario where you must choose between a high-wing or low-wing aircraft.

Visibility

Visibility was one of the first things pilots commented on when debating between the two. High-wing aircraft simply give pilot and passengers a better view of the sky around them and ground below them. They are ideal for an introduction flight, cruising around for fun, or flying on missions that require a clear view of the ground. Low-wing aircraft offer outstanding views of the world above the cockpit, but the wings can block anything below.

Accessibility

When fueling on the ground, it is usually much easier to access the tanks on a low-wing aircraft. Most high-wing fuel tanks require standing on a ladder to reach. However, the flip side of this is that it is more difficult to reach the fuel drains and visually inspect the underside of the wing on a low-wing aircraft.

Ground Clearance

Pilots of low-wing aircraft have to be more conscientious of any obstacles on the ground. This includes taxiway lights, tie-downs, and airport signage. The high-wing pilot still has to watch out, but has the ease of knowing their wings are not in such close proximity.

Safety

In the event of an emergency landing, low-wing aircraft have the advantage of being able to absorb some of the crash impact in the wings instead of the fuselage. They also help in the event of a water landing, having the potential to float above the water for a short period of time.

Some pilots love having shade under their wings on a hot summer day. Other pilots prefer being able to set maps or logbooks on the wing during preflight. Some pilots hate having to walk on the wing to get into the aircraft.

At the end of the day, there is no clear winner. It seems that it mostly comes down to personal preference and familiarity with the type of aircraft. Do you prefer high-wing or low-wing? What do you think makes one better than the other? Let me know in the comments below!

GARA: the General Aviation Revitalization Act of 1994

The General Aviation Revitalization Act of 1994, or simply GARA, is a federal act that was implemented to amend the Federal Aviation Act (FAA) of 1958.

With a few exceptions to the law, it gave general aviation aircraft manufacturers much stronger protection from prosecution for accidents which were previously said to have been caused by manufacturer fault. Manufacturers embraced this amendment as it put an 18 year time-frame on how long they could be held responsible for a design defect. However, prior to the enactment of GARA, it was a different story altogether for many manufacturers of single and twin engine piston aircraft.

The Rise, Fall, and Rise Again of General Aviation Aircraft Manufacturing

The late 1960's and early 1970's were said to have been the golden years for the aircraft manufacturing industry involved in building single and twin engine piston airplanes. However, towards the end of the 70s, during the period from 1978 to 1988, industry-wide employment fell by a devastating 65 percent. Aircraft manufacturing overall saw a massive decrease in new aircraft shipments, falling 95 percent, and over 100,000 people lost jobs in fields directly related to aircraft manufacturing in the United States.

Cessna Aircraft Company, Piper Aircraft and Beech Aircraft (now Beechcraft), the three leading general aviation aircraft manufacturers who accounted for over half the production of general aviation aircraft in the US, were among the hardest hit.

Cessna, who had been producing general aviation aircraft since its founding in 1927, posted the company's first annual loss in 1983. Virtually handicapped by previous liability exposure, Cessna was forced to halt production on all its single engine aircraft by 1986.

Piper Aircraft Company went in an out of bankruptcy, and was forced to suspend production on some of its most popular models, such as the Super Cub and PA-32 Cherokee Six / Saratoga.

Beech Aircraft shifted its emphasis away from piston / propeller aircraft, keeping the Beech Bonanza and Beech Baron in production and discontinuing all other piston / propeller aircraft models.

The cause for such a drastic drop in both jobs and the manufacturing of single and twin engine piston aircraft were the frequent lawsuits against the manufacturers. Manufacturers were able to be sued for manufacturing defects regardless of the number of years since the actual aircraft design had been developed, or used by customers. This was especially hard on aircraft manufacturers, as general aviation aircraft remained in use several decades after being manufactured, much longer than cars, or even most commercial airliners. These lawsuits became so prevalent in the 1980s that many attorneys began successfully specializing in targeting general aviation aircraft manufacturers and insurers with often frivolous lawsuits.

In fact, between 1983 - 86, Beech Aircraft defended itself against 203 lawsuits, each case costing them an average $530,000 to defend. Interestingly, while researching these cases, the NTSB found that none of the accidents could be attributed to manufacturing and design defects. Most were simply pilot error or another indirect fault.

The effect was widespread. In 1978, 18,000 general aviation aircraft were built, compared to only 928 aircraft in 1994, the year GARA was finally passed. The general aviation industry was suffering from a lack of new aircraft, particularly in the area of training, rental and charter use. The three most popular trainer aircraft, the Cessna 152, Piper Tomahawk and Beech Skipper had all been removed from the market by the mid 1980s, never to return. Russell Meyer, the CEO of Cessna at the time, cited product liability concerns as the sole reason for the halting production of single and twin engine general aviation aircraft.

The Birth of GARA

During the 80s and 90s, guided by Cessna CEO Russell Meyer and Ed Stimpson, the President of the General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA), the general aviation industry began applying pressure to congress. Their main request was for Congress to enact limits on product liability for aircraft manufacturers, and Meyer promised that if such legislation was enacted, he would bring single engine general aviation aircraft back into production at Cessna. Adding their voices to this cause were the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA), the largest US organization of private pilots and general aviation aircraft owners; the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers Union (IAM/IAMAW), representing workers at several general aviation aircraft factories; and a group of Kansas politicians, led by Senator Nancy Kassebaum. This proposed legislation became known as the "General Aviation Revitalization Act," or GARA.

GAMA, as one of the biggest advocates for the enactment of GARA, pointed out the fact that the money being put towards defending aircraft manufacturers against lawsuits could be better spent on improvements in overall aircraft safety and helping to develop new technologies for the good of the industry overall.

GARA is Signed into Law, and Aviation History

Finally, in 1994, GARA was passed by the Congress and signed by President Bill Clinton on August 17th, 1994. In its final form, GARA was a mere three pages long. Those three pages, however, provided manufacturers of general aviation aircraft (defined as aircraft containing less than 20 passenger seats, and not being operated in scheduled commercial service) with an exemption from liability for any of their products that were 18 years old or older from the date of an accident. There were some exceptions detailed, and this was a "rolling" statute, meaning that the 18 year time period was reset whenever modified or replacement parts were installed on an aircraft. In effect, a 25 year old aircraft could still be the object of a successful suit against a manufacturer if it contained manufacturer modifications or parts installed within the last 18 years.

GARA was immediately hailed by Cessna CEO Russell Meyers as a landmark step towards saving the general aviation industry.

"By placing a practical limit on product liability exposure, Congress has literally brought the light aircraft industry back to life."

Resuscitating a Dying Industry

Within five years of GARA coming into effect, the industry produced over 25,000 new aerospace manufacturing jobs. In addition, he U.S. Department of Labor estimated that there were also three extra support jobs created for every new manufacturing job. And the aircraft manufacturers begin to show signs of life, including the big three.

True to his word, Cessna CEO Russell Meyer brought back single engine aircraft manufacturing to Cessna, though in a much more limited manner. They resumed manufacturing their three most popular, and statistically safest single engine models. They began with the Cessna 172 and 182 in 1996, and added the 206 (developed from the popular retractable gear Cessna 210 model) back into the mix in 1998.

Piper Aircraft continued to experience financial troubles, but did continue producing the models that survived the 1980s, and even managed to restore some models to production that had been previously cut. This included the PA-32 Cherokee Six / Saratoga, and the twin engine Seminole and Seneca models. Eventually, Piper did emerge from bankruptcy, and some credit GARA for helping them survive that process.

Beech Aircraft continued producing the two piston-egine aircraft models that had survived the pre- GARA depression, the single engine Bonanza, and the twin-engine Baron, but never resumed production on any of the models it had cut during the 80s.

In addition to the increase in jobs, in the first five years following the passage of GARA, overall production of general aviation aircraft doubled. However, this was still far below the high point of the 1970s. And though production has continued to increase over time, it still hasn't returned to those levels.

In Conclusion

There is still ongoing debate about the overall effect, and effectiveness, of GARA. Opponents say that it had little effect, and mostly served to encourage attorneys to shift liability and lawsuits for accidents to new and different targets. Proponents, however, say that though the production rate has continued to climb, the general aviation accident rate has declined, pointing to safer manufacturing and advanced technology in the area of engines, avionics and navigation equipment. Glass cockpits now come standard in most new general aviation aircraft. National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) President and CEO Ed Bolen had this to say:

"GARA is a tiny, three-page bill that has generated research, investment and jobs. It is an unqualified success."

Others share this optimistic view of GARA, such as former Piper Aircraft President and CEO Chuck Suma, former AOPA president Phil Boyer, and Cirrus Designs co-founder Alan Klapmeier. And though this debate on the overall effect of GARA is likely to continue well into the future, this simple, three page document played a key role in helping shape the future of the general aviation industry.

Sources:

GARA: The General Aviation Revitalization Act of 1994..." 2003. 30 Sep. 2015: https://www.avweb.com/news/news/184254-1.html

Kovarik, KV. "A Good Idea Stretched Too Far - Seattle University School of Law..." 2008: https://digitalcommons.law.seattleu.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1843&context=sulr

"General Aviation Revitalization Act | GAMA - General ..." 2009. 30 Sep. 2015

https://www.gama.aero/advocacy/issues/product-liability/general-aviation-revitalization-act

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/General_Aviation_Revitalization_Act

Textron To Develop New Single-Engine Turboprop

By Mary Grady
AvWeb
Textron Aviation

Textron Aviation has "been listening to the market" and sees an opportunity to introduce a new single-engine turboprop, the company confirmed in an email to AVweb on Monday. "This is an entirely new, clean-sheet design aircraft -- not a derivative or variant of any existing product," the company said. The company is not yet releasing details about the project, but said their intent is to "outperform the competition" in parameters including cabin size, acquisition cost, and performance capability. "By leveraging the newest technologies, we expect this aircraft to have a range of more than 1,500 nautical miles and speeds in excess of 280 knots, while offering best-in-class operating costs," according to the company's statement. The design will be on display next year at EAA AirVenture.

In its recent second-quarter shipments report, the General Aviation Manufacturers Association said 191 single-engine turboprops had been delivered in the first six months of 2015, compared to 217 delivered in the same period last year. Textron already produces several turboprop aircraft, including the single-engine Cessna Caravan line and the Beechcraft King Air twins.

A Feast for the Eyes: EAA Sport Aviation Weekend, Part 2

This is a continuation of my article on the 39th annual Kentucky EAA Sport Aviation Weekend. To see Part 1, click here.

We moved over to a beautiful little Cessna 172L Skyhawk, and chatted with its owner Keith Mountain. Keith, a native Australian, stateside for 35 years now, still has a strong hint of an accent that sets him apart from the Kentucky twangers (like myself at times). He explained that he has owned this Skyhawk for about three years – he sought it out for the 180hp constant speed prop conversion, plus the fact that both windows open. The latter was important for him since he does a lot of aerial photography.

Keith grew up with flying, as the farms where he worked frequently used cropdusters in the fields. When we joined the Australian army, he worked with C130s, Bell 212s and Caribous. He got all his ratings 25 years ago when he was considering a career in aviation.

Finally, we chatted with Jerry Depew from Knoxville, and his son Jeremy Hunt. They flew in with their Bonanza 35 C-model V-tail – Jerry joked that they were both "built in the same year – 1951". His Bonanza still has the original 185/205 hp engine, and has only replaced the glass and cylinders – other than a major overhaul, it’s a stock airplane. He’s owned it the same amount of time he’s been married – 17 years. "I asked her permission and she waivered. I thought about it, but kept her anyway!"

When I asked about what got him interested in flying, it was a family affair for him as well. "My father had an airplane, so when I was first flying I couldn’t see out of the windows! I could only see the ground when he turned left base or left for final."

Jerry also shared how he got his first job in aviation. "I just got my driver’s license – since I loved aviation, my first drive was to the airport. The pilots that hung out there asked if I was there to apply for the job. ‘What job?’ was my reply. They needed a lineman, and I asked what they do. So I spoke with the man in charge and got the job. I wound up endorsing my paychecks over to a flight instructor and got my license that year."

Jerry, the editor of the Knoxville EAA newletter, also enjoys collecting aviation stories like me, and shared a gem he heard from Peter Koza in Louisville. "Flying is NOT expensive. The cost of therapy and anti-depressants ARE expensive! Besides, if you take anti-depressants, you have no medical to fly, no libido, no sex, and then you are REALLY depressed!"

Enjoy these additional photos from the 39th annual Kentucky EAA Sport Aviation Weekend!

A Feast for the Eyes: EAA Sport Aviation Weekend, Part 1

The weather was perfect this weekend for a countryside drive from Louisville to the Falls of Rough. There, at Rough River State Park’s airport (2I3) was the 39th annual Kentucky EAA Sport Aviation Weekend, where pilots and aviation enthusiasts from Kentucky and surrounding areas to get together for the weekend. Activities, beyond the typical aircraft sightseeing and meeting old friends (or making new ones), included a poker run, spot landing contest, a Friday night hospitality room, and a Saturday evening banquet.

When my wife and I arrived, the poker run was underway, so many pilots were in the air. But there was still about 30 aircraft of many varieties hanging around, with their pilots grabbing from brats, burgers and potato salad, and sharing their experiences. We wondered around, snapping photos and talking to a few until the batteries on my camera faded away.

Nathan Robertson was minding his parent’s 1950 Cessna 195 when I wondered over – they were off chatting with some friends. His wife was changing their baby’s diaper in the back seat, which made me wonder if a car seat in an aircraft is still called a "carseat".

While his parents, Phillip and Tia, are career commercial pilots, Nathan only recently got his license. "Growing up around aviation, I took it for granted – if I wanted to go flying, I’d just ask them to take me up. When my friends wanted to go flying, and mentioned that they wanted to be adopted by my parents so they could be taken up like that, I began to realize this was something I wanted as well. I got my license in January, plan to get all my ratings, and possibly make a career out of it myself."

We also discussed the difficulty the younger generation faces when pursuing their licenses – Nathan had an approach to consider to fast-track it. "Get books and DVDs, study and get the written exam out of the way first. That way you can just do 20-25 hours flying to save expenses. Most people, like myself, focus on flying first because it’s more fun, but that can stretch out your training time and cost. However, if you decide to make a career out of it, in the grand scheme of things it’s really not that expensive!"

Part 2 of this article can be found here. In the meantime, enjoy these additional photos!

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