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Sun 'n Fun Report


Changed date for next year! Sun ‘n Fun has rescheduled next year’s six day fly-in at the Lakeland FL airport back to the earlier part of April. The new date, for those of you planning ahead, is April 5 through 10, 2016. Plan on being there!

Our week in Florida started with a gathering of 36 Cardinals and 98 Cardinal Lovers for a great time in Winter Haven. After a couple of days together we spent several days soaking up what's new at Sun 'n Fun in nearby Lakeland FL. Here is our report.
* SiriusXM Weather. Spoke with Dan Dickerson of SiriusXM about their plans for continued support of the XM weather channel for aviation. Dan asserts that SiriusXM never intended to discontinue XM weather service. Due to rationalization of the XM and Sirius offerings, more bandwidth became available, and part of that has been dedicated to aviation weather. The extra bandwidth doesn't have a definite plan yet, but data from the new NOAA satellites, and possibly fuel prices, are being considered. Dan implied that SiriusXM realizes they have to step-up their game to compete with free ADS-B weather; many folks aren't going to recognize that the SiriusXM composite NEXRAD is operationally superior for aviation to ADS-B's surface weather (we rarely fly at the surface). But Dan counseled that I could continue to use my Garmin 69A XM weather receiver into the indefinite future.
* Power Options for FG Cardinals? The ECI folks have a couple of intriguing engine upgrade options they're working to certify. For the O320 equipped '68 Cardinals, they have the IO340 Titan engine, built on the O320 frame (and an overhaul upgrade). Slightly larger displacement, Continental-style fuel injection (fuel flow derived by RPM of the meshed-gear positive displacement fuel pump, not a diaphragm pump and flow-balancing throttle body like the Lycomings). This puppy puts out 180 HP~! For the 177A and B crowd, they have a similar IO370 engine that almost achieves 200 HP. The engines are ASTM certified, rather than FAA. They've engaged with Texas Skyways to STC installations in the 172, from which they think field approvals from the Cardinal would be possible under the Vintage Aircraft Advisory Circular.
* PlanePower was acquired by HET, Hartzell Engine Technologies, who are now owners of most of the former Kelly Aerospace line. HET avers they continue to strive to improve quality and reliability of their products. PlanePower's alternators are now manufactured in HET's Fort Deposit, Alabama facility. The Ford-style FLX alternator can provide either 12 or 24 volt compatibility, and up to 150 amps of power.
* Sporty's Pilot Shop Update: Sporty's is now offering an accelerated or finish-up ATP course. They also continue to add features to their Young Eagles' "next steps" program. Their annual fly-in is May 16th, but of course, they continue to offer brats for lunch every Saturday at noon at their Batavia OH airport location. We spoke with them about their lighter-socket USB power supplies, and noted that the newer 2.4A version is less radio-noisy than the 2.1A version, but could be even better. The gentleman we spoke with was not a fan of continuous improvement.
* CFO Sponsor Avidyne introduced the first of several promised upgrades, a Bluetooth keyboard that allows data entry on their 540 or 440 GPS/COM boxes. The keyboard is smaller than your average remote, so it can attach to the yoke, a kneeboard, or any of a number of handy locations. There's now a remote mount version of their ADS-B transponder, the AXP322. This allows freeing up of more stack space, so for instance on a Cardinal, one has room in the stack for TWO 540's, plus an audio panel. Avidyne also rolled out their three stand-alone ADS-B solutions: the MLX100 that's ADS-B in only for $978; the MLX200 that's ADS-B in and out using an external approved GPS source for $3500; and the MLX210 that's like the MLX200 but has its own internal GPS source for $5,000. For use of your GPS data source, your GPS navigator must be on their STC list due to FAA restrictive guidance. There's been much hubbub regarding Avidyne's offer of AeroPlan... sign a liability waiver, and get a free two year extension of the warranty. Avidyne points out that this is a VOLUNTARY program. CFO's insurance sponsor, AIRPRO suggests that before signing, one review the AeroPlan document with your underwriter to make certain you are not adversely affecting your coverage under your policy.
* Avidyne special CFO deals. Contact Tom Harper at Avidyne to find out what kind of a CFO special deal he might be able to make you, depending on your desired Avidyne configuration, and the radios you already have that you may wish to trade in. Several CFO members were quite pleased, and seen writing their deposit checks. Avidyne also updated progress on their digital autopilot. The initial certification work on the Bonanza and Cessna 182 continue apace. A special program for the Cardinal is being contemplated, details to come. If a certain number of deposits can be obtained from CFO members, Avidyne may be able to fast track the Cardinal digital autopilot approval program. Please stand by...
* JP Instruments, the engine monitor folks, shared that they continue to work with CIES, a friend of CFO's, who have introduced a superior design fuel level transmitter. The JPI930 certified engine instrument replacement already works with the CIES transmitter in native mode, frequency domain. The JPI900 certified engine instrument replacement works with the CIES transmitter in voltage or current mode. Several Cardinal owners have already ordered the CIES transmitters to improve repeatability and accuracy of their fuel level measurements, while reducing installation cost and fuss, and hopefully achieving longer term reliability.
* Wentworth Industries, one of the largest of the aircraft salvage and dismantling houses, shared that they occasionally receive aircraft totaled by an insurance company, often due to regrettably low coverage amounts (talk to AIRPRO about how to avoid this malady). These aircraft make great rebuildable projects, in some cases in flyaway condition. Contact Jason at Wentworth for seat parts; contact Kevin at Wentworth for avionics, especially now that S-Tec is again supporting STC'd installation of used autopilots.
* TKM Avionics' Joe Gavin announced that they're back! Those with TKM radios, digital, flip-flop, slide-in replacements for Cessna ARC radios, King radios, and Narco radios, have had trouble over the years getting their TKM radios repaired. See for the catalog of slide-ins available. Joe explained that his team took over TKM a year ago. The old management had repair backlogs up to six months. TKM has worked away at that backlog, and is down to an 8 week wait for repairs. They're continuing to hire, train, and work hard to get the repair backlog current. in Scottsdale AZ.
* B&C Specialty Products has a new, as yet uncertified vacuum pad mount alternator. It's essentially a Ford-style alternator clone, mated to a vacuum pump drive. The machined adapter flange between the alternator and the pump pad is a thing of beauty; I asked them to sell me one as a vase holder for the dining room table! Although our Ford-style alternators are capable of up to 60 amp output, as is B&C's clone, at vacuum pump pad speeds, output is limited to around 40 amps.
* RC Allen is still showing their nifty 2" and 3" electronic digital attitude indicators. The new feature is pitch sync, which some of us might call the good old knob on the attitude indicator to bring the symbolic airplane to the horizon line in level flight. Price point is still about $2,600. Standalone ESP emergency power supply available as an option, now universal voltage at either 14 or 28 volts depending on configuration upon installation.
* eMag continues to make slow but steady progress toward an electronic replacement for the D2000/D3000 magneto. They were showing a prototype two years ago. Now they are selling their six-cylinder magneto, which they hope to have certified by year end (optimistic, perhaps). The key development is that the "nose" of the six-cylinder mag that inserts into the accessory case is the same size as the nose of the D2000/D3000 mag, since the D mag is essentially a six or eight cylinder mag reconfigured for four cylinder use. So this six-cylinder nose will be packaged with a double-sized electronics box for D2000 replacement. eMag introduced another feature, offering both a normal spark advance map and 4 degree timing retarded map via manipulation of the P-lead. Normal operation, of course, is that a grounded P-lead shuts down the magneto; an open P-lead allows the mag to operate. Now, with the newer eMags, a P-lead tied to ground through a specified resistance resistor will retard the timing map by 4 degrees, say on a hot day climbout when engine cooling needs overrides max power concerns.
* ElectroAir also updated on their D2000/D3000 replacement progress. Essentially, you can now replace one mag's functionality with the certified crankshaft collar sensor system. But today, you have to continue your D2000 mag in service to serve the other cylinder. ElectroAir has fabricated an adapter that will fit into the D mag hole in the accessory case and allow mounting of a four-cylinder mag to that spot. The prototype has been fabricated, drawings are under preparation, and application for FAA approval by end of year is hoped for. Electroair held out that if someone wanted to organize a deposit program, they'd consider accelerating the D2000 replacement project in front of other planned certification projects.
* Mooney was showing their M10 mockup, a three seater for training purposes, built in Chino CA for the Chinese training market among other uses. Cute side-stick airplane. FG, 135 HP diesel engine, 140 kts cruise at 75% power, with an option for 20 more horsepower and retractable gear for 160 knot cruise.
* Mike Hattrup from CFO Sponsor Wilco explained that the Orion LED wingtip lights are in certification, and that he's optimistic they may be approved as early as next month. The configuration is two wingtip mounting plates that replace the existing Cessna-installed Grimes or Aeroflash wing tip assembly (position light and strobe if so equipped) with an LED position/strobe assembly, plus an LED tail light replacement. The three assembly kit is $1500 now, will be around $1600 after certification.
* PlanePlastic's Cody Rader held forth on the many offerings CFO Sponsor PlanePlastics has available in ADDITION to Cardinal interior plastic: SEM upholstery and plastic paint in a rainbow of colors, Perma-Grit tools to manipulate your plastic installation just so, spongy door seal material, rubber door trim with internal metal clips to help it hold shape, window beading, screw kits, pre-cut carpet, replacement sun visors, decal kits, red LED cabin lighting and panel NuLites, air vent gulper valves, including a threaded-on version that they've used in Cardinals, SolarSkies solar powered cabin exhaust fans to help keep cabin temperatures lower when parked in the sun, and Hush Kits for cabin sound insulation.
* Keith and I had a chat with the student developers of Aerovie, a EFB that includes a couple of neat features. In particular, the app allows submission of electronic pireps via the Lockheed Martin FSS electronic interface; the software will accept your report, and then attempt to connect for the next hour, before timing out the report as stale. As you probably know, it's not at all uncommon for one's iPhone to make a connection intermittently while in flight. When that happens, Aerovie squirts the pirep into the system. Not sure if you can get that functionality without paying for the app ala other EFBs that charge only for the database.
* LP AeroPlastics had a neat table-top demonstration of their UV and IR blocking windshield material (which I have in my windshield since 2009 now). They have a heat lamp shining through a mock windshield, half typical plexiglass and half low UV/IR transmissive plexiglass. The open air thermometers behind the halves read 180 F and 140 F respectively. That stuff works!
* Keith and I solicited a demonstration from Lockheed Martin (LM) on their website functionality. The enhanced functionality offered a number of benefits. The "next generation briefing" has an excellent flow, much like, but with no annual fee (assumed by the ratepayers, one might say). In addition, the altitude optimization algorithm, we were told, is customizable to your aircraft's performance, a very cool feature for the turbo'd among us who are poorly served by "standard" normally-aspirated algorithms. After you've briefed, and if you have turned on this feature, LM will text or email you with significant changes: alerting to TFRs, weather advisories, or airport/runway closures. Search & Rescue has been enhanced, offering compatibility with satellite based position reporting devices like SPOT. Stationery position reports of a fixed-wing aircraft will be interpreted almost immediately to launch S&R, rather than waiting for flight-plan timeout. Email hyperlinks can be used to open and close VFR flight plans from your mobile device. LM also offers to integrate these features with cooperating software providers. We promised to check it out!
* Remember Sacramento Sky Ranch? Unfortunately, they closed forever a couple of years ago. However, their custom hose building business transitioned to Desser Tire & Rubber in the Los Angeles area. And Desser is now ready to accept orders, for lifetime Teflon hoses, or more modest conventional hoses.
* JP Instruments has enhanced some technical details of their engine monitor line. Some have complained of jittery manifold pressure readings with the earlier furnished manifold pressure transducers, and the necessity of ty-wrapping the connectors together. A new manifold pressure gage is available, with a #4 hose fitting end, instead of the 1/8" NPT of the earlier fitting, and a positive locking connector. It's priced a bit higher, though, at $480 vs. $299 ($181 premium), but it's promised it resolves those earlier deficiencies. Your 900 or 930 or equal must be returned to JPI, unfortunately, to be reconfigured for the new sensor.
* Sliding tiedown ropes, are they a thing? Those of you at Winter Haven during the Sun 'n Fun tornado a few years back may remember that your weathervaning airplanes pulled your tiedown ropes VERY tight. Some CFOrs were seen cutting their ropes, 'cause they couldn't undo those tight knots. A way around that is the slide-down style tiedown rope, which once available through Sporty's, are now available in a slightly different format directly. I had the earlier Sporty's product on my airplane, and simply pulled up gently to disengage after the tornado. These new ones are available in a selection of colors, and come with a storage bag.
* FlyQ electronic flight bag has moved from AOPA back to its originator, Seattle Avionics. Pricing is reasonable at $69 VFR and $119 IFR; neat features include terrain x-ray profile, winds aloft optimizer (turbo friendly? Not sure. Can someone explore and report?); airport facility directory and extended runway centerlines, synthetic vision, HITs, TAWs, and wind optimized auto-routing, as well as fuel prices.
* WingX's Hilton Goldstein proudly announced an incipient Android version of WingX. Hats and shirts were available; the software, not yet so much. :-) But they're working on it. He mentioned that the Android development team is currently bigger than the iOS (Apple operating system) team, but this is of course a transient situation.
* Aveo Engineering continues to offer their high-performance line of Czech-built LED lights in both certified and experimental configurations. New this year is an effort to integrate their lighting into flush-mount lenses in wingtips. Though they don't have the Cardinal in their product plan, they'd be delighted to work with someone already manufacturing Cardinal wingtips. Paging Roy Sobchuk! :-) Here's their RV6/7 wingtip with integral position, strobe, and recognition lighting: Here's their Conforma lighting unit for mounting into wingtips:

See you next year at Sun 'n Fun!

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