The same is true for advanced avionics where Aspen, Garmin, Avidyne, and
others make flat glass primary flight
displays that are certified for nearly
every piston airplane and are cost-effective compared to the total value of the
airplane. The fully integrated systems
that are common in new production pistons have some advantages over most
retrofit installations, particularly in how
the autopilot functions are automated,
but still a huge percentage of any avionics advance is available to install in
older piston airplanes.
Some types of piston airplane
technology cannot be retrofitted, such
as composite airframe construction.
The ballistic recovery system
parachutes are also a costly and
somewhat complex retrofit. And, of
course, many find more recently
designed piston singles to be more sleek
and modern looking than those that
trace their roots back decades.
While some may find it unsatisfying
that there have been only incremental
gains in piston airplane performance and
capability, for airplane owners, or those
shopping for a used piston, this is nothing but good news. Because an airplane
can fly on almost forever with proper
maintenance, the only absolute threat to
existing airplanes is large improvement
in new models that make the older airplanes economically obsolete. That
hasn’t happened in piston airplanes, and
in my opinion, it can’t. So the existing
fleet will continue to hold its value,
which then supports the sale of new airplanes because they depreciate more
slowly, and then level off at a pretty high
value support level.
When we all know that the value of
our piston airplanes is stable, it
encourages us to invest in new-capability avionics, or even engines.
And it ensures that there is a market for
the airplane when it’s time to sell.
Sometimes slow progress is a good
thing, and that is evident when you look
at used piston values.
© 2010 Cobham plc. All rights reserved.
Powerful and precise, with
6400 Wilkinson Drive
Prescott, AZ 86301 USA
Satellites no longer recognize your old ELT, so
upgrading to Cobham’s 406 MHz system is
imperative. Powerful, precise, and lightweight,
this easy-to-install ELT is also the best ELT.
J. Mac McClellan, EAA 747337, has been a pilot for
more than 40 years and holds an airline transport pilot