27 October 2016

I would like to write about an aircraft that I recently fly a lot. It’s a great, little, modern machine that I really love. It presents a nice mix of simplicity and modern technology. It’s a Piper Warrior III with a turbo diesel engine and a glass cockpit technology.

Here are a couple of things about this aircraft that I really love:

1) It’s new! Well not brand new but with its 10 years it’s like a baby amongst trainer aircraft which are often 30, 40 or even more. I often flew myself on other aircraft like Cessns 152s or 172s that were a few decades old, and somehow this didn’t inspire me with full confidence. Their cockpit panel often looked like it could fall apart any minute. It’s good to be able to sit in something that resembles the world that we are living in right now.

This nice, little flying machine
This nice, little flying machine

2) It has a Turbo Diesel Injection engine with FADEC technology. In contrast to the traditional Avgas engine this one does away with mixture  and carburettor levers so your only engine control instrument is the thrust lever. The FADEC  unit controls electronically all the essential engine functions and the pilot can concentrate on other important tasks.

In practical terms I am really happy I do not have to bother myself with thinking about mixture and carburettor heat adjustments every time I change power settings or altitude, it makes flying more intuitive! I know that it’s a really far-fetched comparison but pushing this little Piper’s throttle feels like pushing a throttle of a small jet. Maybe its not a coincidence that the registration markings of this plane are OO-JET.

The 160HP that the Piper’s engine generates is nowhere near a jet’s thrust but I find from experience that this amount of power is perfect for me. I’d be struggling to get any speed with an 110HP of a small Cessna 152, but I’d be a little overwhelmed with 180HP of an Archer or 200HP of an Arrow.

3) It has four seats, which means I can take up to three people for a ride with me to enjoy amazing earth landscapes from above.

4) It is pretty. It has a nice proportional shape, neat nose and low wings that distantly resemble these of a Spitfire. Yes, I said low wings because, despite the fact I respect the likes of Cessna 152/172 and flew them a lot I think that a real airplane has low wings. It’s just the way it should be. Granted, if you’re up for some sight-seeing from above the high wings give you much better visibility, but apart that, low wing it must be.

The Piper Warrior III at sunset at Brussels Charleroi Airport
The Piper Warrior III at sunset at Brussels Charleroi Airport

5) Finally there is the Avadyne 5000 Entegra Glass Cockpit. My feelings are mixed here, since I actually like the simplicity of a traditional analogue cockpit, and with the glass cockpit I need to be more disciplined not to keep my head too long down at the expense of looking outside the aircraft. However, once this obstacle overcome and the main functionalities of the interface memorised, the glass cockpit can be a really useful instrument, simplifying greatly your workload during navigation flights.

The glass cockpit
The glass cockpit

So here, you go, enjoy the flight!

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