New Delhi, December 29, 2017: As we do at the end of each year, the editors of Flying have compiled a list of the most important, compelling and industry-shaping news stories to emerge in the preceding 12 months. As always, the year was jam-packed with major news stories, from the political battles that gripped Washington to new airplane introductions and more, all of which makes covering the general aviation industry so exciting. We expect several of these stories to continue to generate headlines well into the new year and beyond.
25. Cessna Launches SkyCourier Utility Twin
Defying decades of rumors claiming Cessna would never again build a twin-engine propeller aircraft, the company announced the SkyCourier, a clean-sheet, high-wing utility machine capable of carrying three standard LD3 shipping containers through a large cargo door, making it a perfect feeder aircraft solution.
As part of the launch announcement, FedEx Express placed a firm order for 50 SkyCouriers and options for 50 more. The all-new Caravan sibling is on a fast development track with entry into service planned for 2020.
The SkyCourier will be powered by a pair of 1,100 shp Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6A-65SC engines. Textron Aviation opted not to select GE’s new Advance Turboprop engines due to the short development timeline, driven by FedEx’s operational needs. Preliminary performance specifications call for a 6,000-pound max payload capability, 200 ktas cruise speed and 900 nm max range, all numbers that put the new model in the operational sweet spot for FedEx demands. In a commuter configuration, the Cessna 408 will seat 19 passengers. The 19-passenger variant will include crew and passenger doors for smooth boarding, as well as large cabin windows for increased natural light. Both configurations will offer single-point pressure refueling to enable faster turnarounds.
24. Airvan 10 Enters the Market
One of the most international airplanes to hit the market this year was a utility 10-seat single-engine turboprop – the Airvan 10. The airplane comes from India’s Mahindra group, which bought Victoria, Australia-based GippsAero in 2009. In June, the Airvan 10 achieved both FAA Part 23 certification and the equivalent under Australia’s Civil Aviation Safety Authority.
GippsAero also designed the original Airvan – the GA8 – a piston-powered, eight-seat utility airplane of which GippsAero has delivered more than 240 around the world, serving missions such as cargo hauling, medevac, surveillance and charter, mostly in remote areas. Powered by a Rolls-Royce M250 engine producing up to 450 shaft horsepower, the Airvan 10 serves similar needs for companies requiring more space and power for short-range missions. The typical cruise speed is 150 ktas for a range of 700 nm with an hour’s fuel reserve. At around $1.7 million, the Airvan 10 is priced lower than other utility turboprops, such as the Cessna Caravan and Quest Kodiak, though these two competitors have greater performance numbers according to flyingmag.com.
23. Diamond Launches DA50
Designed to give the successful Cirrus Aircraft company’s SR22 series a run for its money, Diamond Aircraft Industries GmbH last spring announced the new DA50 diesel-powered high-performance single. Diamond says the DA50 represents the most modern and efficient single, with the widest body and highest payload in the high-performance piston class. The company expects DA50’s certification in 2018.
The Austrian company says it will produce the four-place DA50-IV, five-place DA50-V and seven-place DA50-VII with 230, 260 and 360 horsepower Safran SMA diesels. The -VII will also be available with a 375 horsepower Lycoming engine or an Ivchenko Progress/Motor Sich AI-450S turboprop. The new flagship singles won’t be powered by engines sourced from Diamond’s own Austro Engines subsidiary, but rather by French producer Safran SMA. Versions will also be offered with a Lycoming gasoline engine and a Ukrainian-made turboprop.
Diamond’s website claims the new DA50V will seat five adults and be capable of a 173 knot maximum speed and a range of 1,000 nm. The DA50’s maximum payload will top out at 1,257 lbs. The DA50’s maximum gross weight is expected to be 3,968 lbs., or approximately 500 pounds heavier than the Cirrus SR-22. Cabin access will be easier through two gullwing doors on the left side of the aircraft. The company chose the Garmin G-1000 Nxi avionics suite with a fully integrated autopilot.
22. Trump TFRs Impact Busy Airspace in Northeast and Florida
The only consolation for pilots and aviation business owners impacted by the “Trump TFRs” is that the commander-in-chief spends his winter weekends at the southern White House in Palm Beach, Florida, and summer weekends at his golf club in New Jersey, with some visits to his Virginia golf club sprinkled in for good measure.
President George W. Bush used to shut down the airspace around his ranch in Crawford, Texas, and President Barack Obama the airspace around Hawaii and Martha’s Vineyard while he was on vacation, but no presidential TFRs have wreaked more havoc on the East Coast than Donald Trump’s. The flight restricted airspace shuts down Lantana Airport in Florida and Somerset and Solberg Airports in New Jersey while the president is in town, and puts a halt to normal flight training activity in some of the busiest airspace in the country.
The frequent TFRs also impact business aircraft operators, who must deal with airspace closures and, in the case of New Jersey, the total shutdown of Morristown Airport when Trump arrives and departs in Air Force One, in this case the powder blue and white Boeing 757 (or C-32 in military designation) rather than the more famous 747 the president flies.
21. Diesel Skyhawk Achieves Certification