People are still crazy enough to design and certify small airplanes

Despite the lack of progress in engines, which is what typically drives progress in airframes, there are still some people crazy enough to be designing and certifying small airplanes. Here are some recent developments:

  • the Italian-designed Tecnam P2010 is now FAA-certified (same Lycoming engine as a Diamond Star DA40 or Cessna 172)
  • the world’s first composite airplane, a four-seater certified in 1970, is flying again, thanks to the Chinese. See AOPA on the Windecker Eagle. The Continental engine is the same as in a Beechcraft Bonanza (certified in 1947)
  • Burt Rutan’s SkiGull, with its revolutionary landing gear, is flying. (article) The Rotax engine is the same as in most light sport airplanes.

Enthusiasm for light aircraft apparently won’t die, though let’s hope that none of these folks go to NBAA and discover that they could make a lot more money building some kind of tweak for Gulfstreams.

5 Comments

  1. jay c

    December 17, 2015 @ 8:23 pm

    1

    Why would anyone purchase a Tecnam P2010 for $300K when you could buy a mid 2000s 182T with ~1K hours on it for $70K less?

  2. anon

    December 17, 2015 @ 9:59 pm

    2

    I would love to step up to a DA50 powered by an new clean-sheet EPS diesel engine”. Both are separately scheduled for certification in 2016, but if the DA50 turbine is priced competitively it might be better than waiting.

  3. anon

    December 17, 2015 @ 10:00 pm

    3

    … oops, html link to EPS didn’t work, so here it is: http://eps.aero/the-eps-engine/

  4. Izzie L.

    December 19, 2015 @ 1:18 am

    4

    Regarding the 182T, how is it possible that an aircraft (and an engine) designed in 1956 is still competitive (and in production)? I realize there have been some updates but they recognizably similar to their 1956 versions. If I tried to make a car based on 1956 technology, even if I updated it a little, there’s no way it would be anywhere close to competitive with a current model that had a clean sheet design from the 21st century. To me (an outsider to the aircraft world), a 182T is like the flying equivalent of a Hindustan Ambassador.

  5. philg

    December 19, 2015 @ 10:36 am

    5

    Izzie: I don’t think your comment is fair. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hindustan_Ambassador#Ambassador_1800_ISZ says, regarding the final version of the vehicle, “The acoustic insulation of the Ambassador Grand was developed by Treves of France”. As far as I know, the interior noise level of a 2015 Cessna 182 will be the same as one built in 1956. Also Hindustan Motors upgraded the powerplant substantially with multi-port fuel injection and diesel options.

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