AOPA Expo Day One Pirep

I am lucky enough to have this year’s AOPA Expo in my home town (or close to it). After dropping my kids at school this am, I high tailed it down to the static display to meet a friend from MMOPA and to see a few birds.  It was a beautiful morning in San Jose, and the planes all looked great. I was there from about 930-1030am, so just about an hour of fun.  Good news is the place was empty, so I got a good chance to talk with:

1) the Piper folks about the PiperJet . .coming sometime in 2011 or 2012 or 2013.  My first impression is that it is BIG! Much bigger than the Mirage fuselage. Longer, higher, wider. Also, the engine is enormous. Way bigger than the DJet mockups or Eclipse prototypes.  See photos.  One interesting datapoint was that I had heard a rumor that the PiperJet would not be legal to fly without the autopilot (due to the pitch/trim relationship given the engine placement). This was dispelled/rejected by the Piper sales guy that I spoke with who described the pitch/trim relationship on the one flying prototype as, “just physics but very benign”. According to him, the are flying the PiperJet without the computer coupling and doing just fine. This is a big advantage if they want to target the single-pilot or owner-flown market.

2) the folks at Cessna (sat in the Mustang and was a) super impressed with the drivers seat but b) relatively unimpressed with the fit/finish and overall size of the PAX section. specifically the baggage is unpressurized, which I find odd. It’s also small.

3) the good folks at TBM who make the unreal TBM 850. Wow is that an amazing product! Talk about a hot rod.

4) the good folks at Pilatus who continue to make an amazing plane even more amazing.  The  avionics and cockpit layout were spectacularly clean. As for the back, well if you’ve already reached perfection, why mess with it?

There were several of the sport plane and ‘mod’ guys out on the static, and many new concept single engine jets. I was impressed with the Diamond DA50 line of pressurized 4 place planes that burn under 10 gph. (and did I mention that they were PRESSURIZED!!!).

One great turboprop model was the Epic. Their numbers look stellar, but they are now pursuing CN certification and until then they are a kit plane. Cost of the kit (approx) $1.2mm and 3 days / month for 9 months (!) Yikes that is a lot. .  but it promised over 300kt cruise and 8 mins to FL280. . .It currently takes me about 40 mins to get to 210, so that is a huge trip savings.   Stay tuned here. Despite the challenges of certification, the appeal of composite construction is significant wrt strength and weight.

The morning was fantastic . . . all kinds of beautiful polished planes positioned right on the SJC ramp (every few minutes you’d have to pause your conversation for a Southwest or Alaska departure . . .awesome).

I’m back on the show floor tomorrow am to beeline it over to Garmin and look at that 696.

Send comments if you’d like me to check anything out for you.  . . . this year I get to be local!!!

Explore posts in the same categories: Adventures, Technology

One Comment on “AOPA Expo Day One Pirep”


  1. 00 per alarm Well I’m sure the price varies by $20 health and safety training courses plus or minus, but our cost worked out to be about $350.


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