Tuesday, October 9, 2007

AOPA 2007 in Hartford

I managed to make it to Hartford last weekend and took a few photos while cruising the aisles of the AOPA show. The most popular exhibits seemed to be those of Cessna, Cirrus, and Piper. The latter two brought mockups of their single-engine jets. Piper's was the more convincing by far. It's obvious Piper has thought this one through and can pull it off. The Piper jet's thin, high-aspect-ratio wing and long cabin say it all: This baby is meant to go long distances at high altitudes. This is your upgrade path if you're a Mirage owner.

The Cirrus design doesn't seem particularly well-considered. The wing is almost laughably short and fat, for example, which will cut the plane's rate-of-climb needlessly and severely limit its ceiling. The short fuselage, stubby wings, and V tail spell "Dutch roll" to me. All in all, it looks a bit like a one-off proof-of-concept homebuilt rather than something that's supposed to go into production. The short, fat wings tell me all I need to know, frankly.

Cessna will be using a Thielert turbo-diesel in the 172 next year. They didn't bring a 172 to the exhibit hall, but they did bring a copy of the engine.

The particular Thielert model that will be used in the 172 will produce 155 horsepower and (according to the chief engineer on the project; the guy in the blue shirt) will actually weigh a bit more than a Lycoming O-360. The engine displaces something like 121 cubic inches. It gets much of its horsepower from turbocharging and sheer rpm (1.6:1 gear reduction at the prop). In fact, maybe it gets a little too much horsepower that way.

Time (between overhauls) will tell.

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