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Nine Hottest Innovations at Sebring

Story and photos by Kent Misegades for EAA.org

Sebring Recap
View the photo galleries - 1   |  2 

January 26, 2010While the Expo provided an ideal means to “fly before you buy,” its large exhibitor tents displayed a wide range of products that push the technology envelope in many directions, or make aviation more affordable to pilots, builders, and manufacturers. The following list summarizes what your EAA journalists considered to be the Nine Hottest Innovations at this year’s U.S. Sport Aviation Expo at Sebring.

The PiperSport, a re-branded version of Czech Sport Aircraft’s SportCruiser made its debut at Sebring.

PiperSport (Piper Aircraft Inc., Vero Beach, Florida, www.newpiper.com)

In what some had described as the “worst kept secret” of recent weeks, Piper nevertheless caused great excitement with the announcement of an exclusive international agreement to market the Czech Sport Aircraft’s SportCruiser as the new PiperSport. This sleek special light-sport aircraft (S-LSA) will be sold and serviced both through Piper’s existing dealership network as well as through many of the existing SportCruiser sales channels. Three versions of the Rotax 912ULS-powered plane are now offered: the PiperSport ($119,900), PiperSport LT ($129,900) and the PiperSport LTD ($139,900), the differences being primarily in the installed Dynon avionics and autopilots. Russ Greenberg, PiperSport Product Manager, described improvements already made by Piper’s engineers to include better ventilation, a stronger nose gear, sunshades, and small changes to the stabilator. While Piper has not taken an ownership stake in Czech Sport Aircraft, they are the master dealership, and will provide sales, marketing, service, training and spare parts for the aircraft worldwide. Aircraft will be available for delivery starting April 1, 2010.

Tecnam _2008
The first Tecnam P2008 in the US on display at the Tecnam booth.

Tecnam P2008 (Tecnam North America, Richmond, VA, www.tecnam.net)

Arriving on U.S. shores only a few weeks before the Expo, the sleek new Tecnam P2008 S-LSA was one of the few all-new aircraft debuting this year. Coming on the heels of the remarkable twin-Rotax P2006T at EAA AirVenture 2009, the P2008 represents the latest generation of sophistication from Tecnam, an Italian company which boasts a 62-year history of aircraft manufacturing and claims to be the world’s largest producer of light-sport aircraft. Unique in the P2008 is the combination of an aluminum wing and stabilator with a carbon fiber fuselage, said by the company to provide a good balance between cost, robustness, and aerodynamic efficiency. Despite being one of the first examples off the Capua, Italy, assembly line, the fit and finish of the P2008’s modern interior was impressive. Tommy Grimes, President of Tecnam North America, described the demo ship on display in Sebring as being “dressed to kill,” with a full dual Garmin panel including autopilot and costing $169,000. Tecnam presented its entire line of aircraft at its large display, which was the site of a major press conference on Friday to introduce its new U.S. partner, Tecnam North America of Richmond, Virginia. Associated with the respected Heart of Virginia Aviation (HOVA), Tecnam North America will be responsible for all facets of the company’s activities in North America. (The author will report on the flying qualities of the P2008 in the near future.)

AeroShell Oil Sport Plus 2 and Sport Plus 4 (The Hague, Netherlands, www.aeroshell.com)

The result of a close, multi-year collaboration between the Rotax engine experts at Lockwood Aviation, Pennzoil, Shell Oil, and independent testing labs, AeroShell proudly debuted the world’s first lubricant specifically engineered for two-stroke aircraft engines. Named “AeroShell Oil Sport Plus 2” and labeled bright green, this lubricant is a departure from the past use of motorcycle oils, deemed necessary due to frequent reformulations that follow the motorcycle industry and not aviation’s needs. In exhaustive “double blind” testing of multiple formulations of oil running for 300 hours in Rotax 582 engines under realistic conditions, the new oil was shown to deliver outstanding performance in regard to ring “sticking,” overall engine cleanliness, protection from corrosion, scuffing, and wear. AeroShell also announced its Oil Sport Plus 4, which the company calls the world’s first oil to be specifically developed for four-stroke engines used in light-sport and experimental amateur-built aircraft and their overseas VLA/UL counterparts. Labeled bright orange and aimed primarily at Rotax 912 and 914 series engines with integrated gearboxes and overload clutches, Sport Plus 4 has many special features that make it superior to the motorcycle oils used in these engines in the past. Sport Plus 4 should not, however, be used in engines that need ashless dispersant oils, including engines from Continental, Jabiru, and Lycoming.

Garmin G3X
Dual panel Garmin G3X displays were installed in a Jabiru J230-SP at Sebring.

Garmin G3X with EIS (Garmin Ltd., Olathe, Kansas, www.garmin.com)

Garmin announced at Sebring the addition of an electronic engine monitor (EIS) capability to their G3X panel mounted displays. Based on their GDU 370/375 systems, the non-TSO’d G3X is aimed at the light-sport aircraft and experimental markets, and combines full primary flight attitude and direction, engine monitoring, moving-map, NEXRAD imaging, and XM WX satellite weather displays. Dual 7-inch, diagonal color, sunlight-readable displays were demonstrated. Up to three such displays may be interlinked through a built-in network, with automatic full reversionary backup mode for safety and redundancy. The new EIS requires a sensor kit consisting of engine oil temperature and pressure sensors, EGT, CHT, MP and fuel rate sensors. Kits for all four- and six-cylinder engines from Continental, Jabiru, Lycoming, and Rotax will be available soon. The cost for the sensor kits range from $850 for a simple 4-cylinder engine to $1250 for a more complex 6-cylinder engine. Garmin also announced a tighter integration with the TruTrak “GX Pilot” autopilot, a soon-to-be-released product that has been designed with the G3X in mind. Pilots will be able to access the GX Pilot’s full capabilities from the G3X panel, including heading and navigation modes, altitude hold and rate-of-descent altitude change. A single G3X unit including the ADAHRS and sensors weighs around six pounds and costs approximately $10,000. A dual-panel G3X weighs eight pounds and costs around $14,500.

The new Dynon SkyView (center) with compact EFIS-D6 (left) and light-weight SV-ADAHRS-200 (right).

Dynon SkyView (Dynon Avionics, Woodinville, Washington, www.dynonavionics.com)

Shown in prototype form at AirVenture 2009, Dynon started delivering its new SkyView 10” and 7” display integrated PFD and EIS systems late last year. With its 2-1/2” depth and 2.5 lb. weight, the system makes for simpler, lighter installations on the limited panels of LSA and E-AB aircraft. But the SkyView is not short on capabilities, supporting a virtual smorgasbord of functions that include primary flight displays, engine monitoring, synthetic vision, top-down terrain, battery backup, and Dynon’s own lightweight ADAHRS and GPS receiver. A single screen system starts at $6,000, and the company is offering a special trade-in credit to current owners of its EFIS and/or EMS systems. Improvements planned for 2010 for the SkyView include XM weather, navigation mapping software, autopilot software, and a radio/transponder interface.

NavWorx Affordable ADS-B (NavWorx Inc., Rowlett, TX, www.navworx.com)

Tackling the greatest impediment to use of ADS-B technology in light aircraft – cost - NavWorx introduced the compact, light and affordable ADS 600 remote receiver and PADS 600 portable receiver (both listed starting at $1,495), as well as its ADS 600-B remote transceiver (price TBD). NavWorx representative Bill Moffitt showed the simulated output from the ADS 600 depicted on a yoke-mounted display from SkyVision Xtreme (Asheboro, North Carolina, www.skyvisionxtreme.com). The HP iPAQ-based unit showed other aircraft in an intuitive, 3-dimensional rendering, in addition to the top-down 2D display more common in other collision-avoidance systems.

Eggenfellner Hondabased Aircraft Engine
Eggenfellner’s latest creation, the Hondabased Aircraft Engine.

Eggenfellner Hondabased Aircraft Engine (Eggenfellner Aircraft Inc., Edgewater, Florida, www.eggenfellneraircraft.com)

Jan Eggenfellner surprised many at Sebring with his latest automobile engine conversion, which he simply calls the “Hondabased Aircraft Engine.” As in his past work with Subaru-based engines, Eggenfellner has found an automobile engine - this time the four-cylinder inline motor used in the new Honda Fit/Jazz - that has unique features that make it ideal for aircraft. According to Eggenfellner, the engine had been praised in leading car magazines for its ‘silky smooth’ operation, is used in Honda’s outboard marine motors, and has been chosen for the new Honda Fit race car series. The all-aluminum, liquid-cooled, fuel-injected Hondabased engine has a displacement of 91 cu-in (1497 cc), compression ratio of 10.4:1, weighs 199 pounds and sports dual Eggenfellner-designed “Aero ECU” electronic ignition as well as an Eggenfellner 2.33:1 gear reduction drive. The prototype develops 117 HP at 6,600 RPM, 88 HP at 4,900 RPM (75% max power) and has flown several hours on a CH601 HDS airframe. Available for delivery in the summer of 2010, the engine conversion by itself sells for $12,000. A firewall forward-ready version will be offered for around $15,000. An engine conversion kit will also be offered for those who choose to obtain their own Fit engine. Given the Honda Fit’s mileage in excess of 30 mpg, the fuel efficiency of Eggenfellner’s Hondabased engine should prove to be attractive. (He also described to the author work on his delta-winged aircraft, the Eggenfellner E2B, simulations of which he has posted on YouTube.)

FliVie Flight Video Recording and Training System (FliVie, Palo Alto, California, www.flivie.com)

FliVie flight recording system
FliVie flight recording system, showing camera views and GPS tracks on the large monitor, recording tablet with dual digital video cameras.

If a picture is worth a thousand words, then FliVie is worth several million per flight. Consisting of two small digital video cameras (typically mounted above the panel and between the student and instructor), a GPS receiver and small flight recorder, FliVie provides flight schools with the means to capture the pilot’s view as well as the instrument panel and the pilot’s manipulation of the flight controls. The data is saved to a small personal memory card which can then be analyzed on the ground. FliVie has partnered with MS Aviation (San Jose, California, www.pilottraining.com) to develop interactive pilot courses on DVD or online that integrate the actual flight path as recorded during the lesson with the ideal situation described in the training plan. According to FliVie representative Ehud Chitov, “Students’ retention of flight instruction improves dramatically as students can re-experience their flights whenever they want.” On January 23, the company announced an agreement with Europe-American Aviation of Naples, Florida, to equip its entire fleet of Diamond aircraft with FliVie systems. A full installation of FliVie’s “Flight Recorder 500” costs around $2,000.

Levil Technology’s EFIS-1831 depicting synthetic vision, top down and engine displays.

Levil PC-based EFIS & AHRS (Levil Technology Corp., Oviedo, Florida, www.aviation.levil.com)

It seems that as soon as the latest generation of dedicated EFIS hardware emerges, some clever person figures out a means to replicate most of the same capabilities in software on low-cost consumer devices. In Sebring, Levil Technology showed off its EFIS-1831 with integrated AHRS & GPS receiver, touch-screen capabilities and optional Internet-based weather depictions running on a Windows-based PC. As described by Levil’s president Ruben Leon, “EFIS-1831 provides the flexibility to choose the navigation program you are most comfortable with, such as APIC, Voyager, Anywhere Map, and others. Depending on the choice of software, it supports features such as built-in terrain, airspaces, weather reports, winds, TFRs, etc.” With a simple tap or two on the screen, the EFIS switches to a full-featured Windows environment including all standard Internet and email applications. Levil’s own AHRS-G unit (sold together with the EFIS or separately) integrates both attitude and heading reference system and engine data acquisition into a 6-in x 3-in x 1.5-in package weighing only 12 oz. Plug it into your own laptop and you’ve created your own portable EFIS! Levil also offers the option of adding an extra EFIS display at a very affordable price. Support for autopilots is now under development. Prices for the basic EFIS start at $4,000 and $1,400 for the stand-alone AHRS. (Leon is also known in the homebuilding community for the twin-engine Cozy MK IV he built with his brother, Carlos).

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