April 4, 2019

Highlights from Sun ‘n Fun 2019


By Phil Lightstone

Sun ‘n Fun opened on Tuesday with a cool overcast with rain showers throughout the morning. By early afternoon, typical Florida weather delivered sunshine and a comfortable 28°C. The weather in the morning was low IFR, which saw lighter than usual aircraft arrivals in the tie-down area. With the ceilings lifting mid-afternoon, aircraft arrivals increased. During the day, two incidents occurred: a Beechcraft Baron experienced a collapsed nose gear, blocking the runway and an arriving Aero L-39 Albatros, while braking heavily, blew out its two main landing gear tires.

With over 3,600 volunteers, 26 full-time and eight part-time staff, the logistics of running a premier aviation event were delivered with the team’s usual professionalism and courtesy. From this writer’s perspective, the experience was like a well-oiled machine, designed to enhance the aviation enthusiast’s experience.

ADS-B was a common topic of discussion at many exhibitors’ booths. Kevin Lacey, star of TV’s Airplane Repo, demonstrated installing a uAvionix SkyBeacon in a Piper Tri-Pacer. Lacey, a man of many talents, is also a uAvionix Qualified Installer. He demonstrated how simple the installation of SkyBeacon really is. With one small hiccup (Murphy’s Law), the certified ADS-B OUT (978 MHz) beacon was installed without a lot of effort.

As of Tuesday morning, the FAA reported that less than 2,400 ADS-B OUT $500 (US) rebate positions were remaining, down from 3,500 the previous week. Manufacturers like uAvionix, Garmin and Avidyne were swamped with pilots and aircraft owners inquiring about ADS-B. Garmin is displaying their new GNX 335/345 ADS-B transponders with an antennae diversity option that meet both U.S. and Canadian requirements (starting at $6,495 USD).

French company Daher is displaying their new TBM 910 and 940 turboprop aircraft, powered by Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6A-66D engines. The 940 introduced auto-throttle, delivering near autonomous engine management with automatic icing detection, both being firsts for turboprop aircraft. Both the 910 and 940 have re-designed cabins offering the next level of creature comfort for both aircrew and passengers. Daher’s strategy and marketing director Arthur Ingles said, “Daher’s aircraft certainly make the world a smaller place”.