And so we bid farewell to the Citation Mustang. After 12 years and 470 aircraft, Cessna has decided to discontinue their little jet. The Mustang was conceived in the midst of the Very Light Jet (VLJ) era, when the industry seemed to be clamouring to build small, single-engined, single-pilot aeroplanes that, theoretically, would sell for around $US 1 million. Rather than struggle to make the concept work, Cessna relied on what they do best: build quality twin-engined jets that sold for what they were worth. As such, they weren't part of the VLJ mania, but rode on its back as operators started to see the value in single-pilot jets. Whilst others were battling to get something to market (some still are), the Mustang proved a winner right out of the box. In the end, it was friendly fire that felled the Mustang as customers preferred the larger Citation M2. Embraer has the same issue with its Phenom range. With Cessna retiring the Mustang with dignity, the small end of the entry-level jet market now belongs to the Phenom 100, HondaJet and the newcomer, the Cirrus SF50 Vision. Faced with the same conundrum as Cessna, it will be interesting to see what Embraer decides to do with the Phenom 100's flagging sales. Not only has it been eclipsed by the Phenom 300, but also by the HondaJet. Cirrus and Honda have no other jet options, but Embraer does, so it is not a completely fantastic prediction to say that the Phenom 100 may soon disappear also.
This week I decided to chase up a largely forgotten recommendation from 2014's Forsyth Report. Recommendation 22 has been left to sleep in the corner as the party went on around it; I suspect because it wasn't actually agreed to in the government response. It calls on CASA to establish smaller offices in regional centres to help improve levels of efficiency and the relationship with the aviation community. Personally, I didn't identify this as being a recommendation central to the recovery of general aviation, but it would have gone a long way toward getting CASA out of the ivory towers and into the bricks and mortar of the streets. CASA has now rejected the recommendation, saying in summary that the idea is not cost-effective. That may be true from their point of view, but burying themselves deep in the labyrinths of capital cities to oversee an industry that exists largely on airports (rarely situated in capital city labyrinths) isolates them from the very industry they are trying to be a part of. CASA has promised to be more agile and flexible instead, but given the traditional inertia of government bureaucracies, the reality is that the industry is likely to end up with neither. Good thing that recommendation wasn't agreed to.
Foxbat Australia's Peter Harlowe has written an excellent examination of why some pilots find recreational aircraft and LSAs hard to land. It is one of biggest arguments GA pilots have against RAAus aeroplanes. With Peter's permission I have put the article up on our website, because I think it contains messages for pilots of almost any experience level. During our ab initio training the need for discipline in controlling speed on final would have been drummed into each one of us, yet over the years, the forgiving nature of GA aircraft has encouraged us to let the diligence slip a little bit. First there is the adage of adding five knots for a gusty wind, which inevitably slips out to seven knots in practise, then in the end anything that works is right, until you get into an aeroplane that just won't land because you've approached too fast. Some bounce or balloon and others don't stop flying, preferring instead to use the far fence as an arrestor cable. We could all do with reading this feature carefully, and keeping it in mind next time we are tempted to do a "near enough's good enough" approach.
May your gauges always be in the green,