Blog about aviation & marketing

One of my all time favorite airplanes, the Cessna 172.

Aviation Thoughts 2 Comments

When you mention the Cessna 172 to most people, the first thing that comes into their mind is ?boring?! The Cessna 172 Skyhawk lineage can be traced back to the 1950’s with the high wing, strut braced wing with a mix of the old Cessna 195 with the big radial engine…they all have the high wing as the basic architecture of the airplane. Compared to the Cirrus SR20, many homebuilt airplanes, and the Diamond DA-40, the airplane doesn’t have the same ?look at this airplane? feel to it, but with updates, it still is a terrific airplane to own. Read More

How to sell your airplane…try this, it works.

Airplane Business 21 Comments

I have been spending time in the market…an actual buyer of an airplane for a project of refurbishment and ?proof of concept? in the marketing of a particular airplane. During this time, I have learned that there are many reasons why it takes a year + to sell a single engine airplane. Whether it is marketing your airplane for sale, IE where are you placing your advertisement, to the presentation and follow up…OH, THERE IS NONE OF THAT GOING ON! Read More

How GPS Navigation has changed how we fly.

Aviation Thoughts No Comments

I have been recently doing my CFI renewal on-line, some acronym called FIRC that every instructor who doesn?t practice a lot of flight instruction has done at one time or another. Interesting enough was one of the second to last sections on GPS navigation and the use of GPS, IE how to introduce and lesson plan for teaching a new or instrument student the use of GPS. I probably enjoyed this section of the renewal more than any of the other review tasks, as when I learned how to fly, there wasn?t even a Loran system installed?yes, I am 47 years old and started flying in 1981. Read More

Making good airplanes…Great!

Aviation Thoughts 2 Comments

The Grumman American trainer is an airplane that has a special place in my heart, based on this is the airplane that I grew up around as a teenager, and first soloed. I always loved the small wings with crisp ailerons and sports car feel to it, the canopy has always been one of the truly unique features, making it as close to a fighter feel to it than any other airplane.

A business partner and myself have been considering re-making the Grumman into a special airplane, for the retail buyer who wants something fun to fly, and yet at a price that is significantly less than a new sporty LSA. The re-make consists of a low time engine, avionics including a GPS, and a nice interior and paint scheme. We both jumped on the fighter like concept, and since WWII had shaped a lot of piston airplane development and growth, we decided to re-make these airplanes in a fighter pilot paint scheme. Things were looking good, and the marketing side of things were all factored into re-introducing the airplane, not as a trainer, but as a special performance airplane that would make Skyhawk pilots envious.

There are several options to make this possible, the first option being a 150/160 horsepower to replace the original installed 108/115 horsepower engines. From what I can gather on this airplane, the performance increase is dramatic, climb rates for this airplane at a gross of 1,600 lbs is very respectable, while the cruise speed comes close to 150 mph. The problem with this solution, is the cost to convert the airplane gets a little expensive, and the larger problem is the useful load after the conversion. Not only do you add weight to an airframe that doesn’t have a lot of extra useful load, but you are also going to burn more fuel, so you need to start considering the long range tanks version.

This is where the process gets rather difficult, because not only are you putting a new engine on the airframe, but you need to beef up the nose wheel gear, add fuel tanks, a new propeller, etc. and before you know it, you are looking at $30,000 + airframe. Considering the performance gains, the airplane could be purchased for under $49,000 and really be the high performance airplane for the tight wad! Considering the alternatives, which aren’t out there that can make the 150 miles per hour claim for this price, and add the inexpensive ownership costs of the airframe, and cheap insurance based on having to insure only 2 seats, and you have a lot of bang for the buck.

I have tried to figure out a way to make the performance gains, without actually swapping out the engine and the associated problems that accompany this solution. I started with the engine, because if there was a way to make more horsepower, or at least use all the horsepower, then perhaps this is the best way to make the airplane perform. The problem with most smaller single engine airplanes, is the fixed pitch propeller, which represents a compromise in a lot of areas. You can select a climb propeller, which is made for turning more engine rpm on take-off, reducing the take-off roll, and being able to make horsepower during the climb, this prop is great…although you still don’t get all your horsepower for take-off. The downside to the climb propeller, is that at cruise, you are turning the engine rpm more to get cruise power, and you are losing top speed and efficient cruising speed. The cruise propeller is made to give better and more economical cruise, but at the trade of increased take-off roll, and lower climb rates…on the Grumman, you want all the climb you can get due to the smaller wingspan.

The solution was to put the high compression pistons in the airplane, which gives the engine a bump in horsepower and efficiency from the 108 horsepower low compression engine. Another solution is the Aeromatic propeller, which is a very unique propeller that gives full take-off rpm and climb, while at cruise the airloads slow the propeller rpm down so that the propeller acts as a cruise propeller and climb propeller. Only one catch…the expense! One other area that performance could be improved, and that is with a ?tuned-exhaust? system, which allows the engine to gain the horsepower lost through the standard exhaust system. Unfortunately, Powerflow systems does not have a tuned exhaust for the Lycoming 0-235 engine that is standard on the Grumman AA1A, AA1B, and AA1C series of airplanes.

It would be a very interesting project, I wish I had the money to design a tuned exhaust system, put fuel injection and electronic ignition on the engine. I would then mount an Aeromatic propeller and install speed fairing that are supposed to yeild about 10 mph from the factory original equipment. I think with these modifications, a stock Grumman AA1A, AA1B, or AA1C airframe would be able to have respectable take-off and climb performance, ideally close to 1,000 feet per minute, while offering a 135 to 140 mph cruise on less than 7 gallons per hour would really be a great airplane to own.

If you ever wonder why they don’t do certain things in aviation, especially modifications that would make the airplane a better airplane, you have to look at the expense to make the modifications. There is too much risk for most investors to certify and come up with the necessary STC’s (supplimentary type certificates), to justify this expense. Therefore, you will find a lot of airplanes out there that are really a compromise in many ways, or to have this type of performance, it is a modern manufactured design that will cost a $100,000 minimum. I guess that is why the experimental category is where all the progress is being made. Many experimental airplanes are utilizing the latest technologies to make the airplanes fast and efficient, while remaining cost effective!

Thunderstorm Avoidance using XM weather and Garmin G1000 MFD

Aviation Thoughts No Comments

I probably have 1,100 hours plus flying the Garmin G1000 system, and have experienced nothing but excellent reliability over time, with only a ?miscompute? between the two PFD systems in the King Air. During this time, I have seasoned 4 summer thunderstorm filled years and have found the XM weather feature to be one of my all time favorites for this type of weather. Read More