Thursday, October 22, 2009

Evaluations Continue

Candidate #2 was evaluated in person yesterday. The seller brought it from Michigan to BKL in exchange for our picking up the cost of fuel. A fair trade.

Impressions: Striking ramp presence. Sits very high. Had trouble inspecting the top blade of the two-blade prop when it was straight vertical. Paint scheme is very nice and it's definitely new, but some finishing work is needed. Engine compartment very clean. Like the Continental engine design that puts the alternator in the back, so you don't have to deal with the prop if you have to change the alternator belt. Cowling requires a screwdriver to open, unlike the newer designs that have push button release mechanisms. Tip tanks provide for an increase in MTOW, so if you don't fill them (80 gallons in the mains is plenty), you get a nice increase in useful load. Interior is newer but still shows a degree of aging.

The panel was very nice, and the avionics very workable. Interestingly, instead of building-up the wiring harness by hand, the owner went with an avionics hub and connection cables from these guys. The idea is that once you install the hub, anytime you want to change a radio or other item, you just contact them and purchase the appropriate connector cable. Plug one end of the the cable into the radio and the other into the hub, and -- voila! -- all the necessary interconnections are accomplished without your avionics technician having to do them wire by wire. GENIUS!!!

The rubber met the road, however, when MS sat in it. His knees were interfering with just about every control you need. Throttle and mixture were abutting the outside of his kneecap, and the tops of his knees interfered with the control arm on which the yokes are mounted. In an instant, the dream was over. No way that MS could fly that plane. While it's unclear whether the next plane with be purchased solo or in co-ownership, what is clear is that there will no plane will be purchased that can't be flown by someone who is very, very likely to spend time in the cockpit with the IFR Pilot.

We spent an hour or so this morning examining a local Bonanza A36 as another potential option. More on that later. Back to work!


Wayne Conrad said...

I like that cabling system. My only question would be, do patents or other "intellectual property" restrictions prevent other companies from making the cables? If not, you'll be locked into one company for the cables. If that company is the sole source of cables and it goes out of business, you could be left with a nice hub and existing instruments but no ready way to install new ones.

So my question to the sales force is would be, "what happens to me if, God forbid, you have to close your doors?"

Matt said...

That cable system is brilliant. If you're replacing most of your panel, installing that could pay for itself in labor saved very, very quickly. Avionics shops are going to hate it. ;)

If that company does close it's doors, I'm sure somebody would buy up any related patents and IP and keep the business going. My boss would be very interested, for one (I work in the MX department at a fairly large FBO & flight school).

Too bad about the "knee issue"; it looked like a very nice plane otherwise. Well, aside from the HSI; in my experience NSD360s can be expensive and downtime-consuming to maintain. All else being equal, I'd recommend going with a King, Sandel, or even a regular old DG.