Bendixking AeroFlight (KI 300) and AeroCruze (KFC 230)

Discussion in 'Avionics and Upgrades' started by Steve P, Nov 13, 2018.

  1. Steve P

    Steve P Filing Flight Plan

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    Hi Folks,

    I work for BendixKing and I want to get some conversations started around 2 of our upcoming products.

    The KI 300 received it's TSO 10/13/18 (finally) and we are just waiting on the STC for the autopilot adapter (KA 310), which is expected Q1 2019. You will need the KA 310 to drive a legacy autopilot.

    The KFC 230 is scheduled to be released Q1 2019 for upgrades to existing King autopilots, and new installations will be available about 3 months after the initial release. The airframes included on the initial STC are listed below. More airframes will be added to the STC every 3 months or so.

    Beech F33A
    Beech A36, A36TC
    Mooney M20J, M20K
    Mooney M20L
    Piper PA-32-301, 301T
    Piper PA-32R-301, 301T
    Socata TB 10, TB 20

    I'm interested in seeing what questions everyone has.

    Clear Skies,

    Steven Pearce
    BendixKing
     
  2. flyingcheesehead

    flyingcheesehead Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Steve,

    I hate to be a pain... But:

    I have a Mooney M20R that came from the factory with all of the best stuff King had to offer at the time. I was fully prepared to replace it with your more modern equipment, but:

    1) Your KSN 770 has the world's most awful user interface. I tried to punch in a simple direct-to at Oshkosh one year and couldn't figure it out, so I asked one of your reps, and he couldn't do it without a trip to the manual either... And there was no advantage in installation cost over going with a more popular option either. So, we got a Garmin GTN 750.

    2) I have a KFC 150 autopilot. It would intermittently fail the self test for several years. We threw a lot of money into it, and at the end of the day it turned out to be the pitch trim servo. We were quoted $9600 for an overhaul exchange unit! :incazzato:Luckily, our shop has a fantastic component-level repair guy who brought it back to life, since even at that price you had none available.

    3) Our KI-256 is slowly dying. It's not worth overhauling, as modern technology is available for not too much more that has no moving parts and way more capability. The KI-300 is interesting, but it doesn't have many features and is very expensive in comparison to some of the other solutions out there. You announced the KI-300 a LONG time ago (OSH 2015 IIRC?) and you still can't sell me one that'll hook to my autopilot? And every year at Oshkosh we've been told it would be "shipping in Q4". (Which year?) If the KI-256 dies today, I'll be forced to look elsewhere. But even if you had the STCs ready, your price simply isn't competitive. I can get much more capable equipment for not much more money.

    You've already lost the battle for my radio stack. All that's left is a KX165 and the KFC 150. I can buy an entire Garmin system for the price you guys charge for one servo, so if it goes on the fritz again it's getting ripped out. The KX165, you don't even have a modern replacement for, so if that quits Garmin will get our business there too.

    I'm glad you're here soliciting opinions, and I'm sorry to have to open up on you with both barrels, but if your company can't act like they want to be in the small GA business, you won't get very far.
     
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  3. Steve P

    Steve P Filing Flight Plan

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    @flyingcheesehead,

    I'm here to listen and learn because you bring up some very valid points.

    The cost to repair our servos needs to come down, but I don't want you to think that BendixKing is making a ton of cash on those repairs because we aren't. Those servos are pretty reliable, but they are also a pretty old and getting the parts is becoming more difficult. However, with the KFC 230 coming we will start requiring more servos, which means you'll see the cost of repairs come down as parts become more available.

    Getting the TSO (finally) for the KI 300 does not make up for the fact we've changed the release date every couple months for the last couple of years. I'm here to show a commitment to the Q1 2019 STC date and that BendixKing is ready to play in the GA market.

    Options for replacing KI 256's are slim right now. People can either install a G500/600 or an Aspen Evolution 1000 Pro. Even with the KI 300's price, the install will easier, which means it's going to be a cheaper option overall. And more competition is good for everybody.

    I appreciate you taking the time to respond and I hope others will follow because BendixKing is not going to build trust by sitting in the dark, rather we need to tackle concerns head on to show that we are committed to you folks in the small GA community.
     
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  4. flyingcheesehead

    flyingcheesehead Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Glad to hear it, Steve.

    Can you comment on the new repair policy, where all repairs are supposed to be sent back to the factory? While Garmin operates that way as well, they've always operated that way and they've had good turnaround times and reasonable, flat prices.

    But the only company I know of who has had a more open model and then changed to requiring factory repairs is Narco. After experiencing their factory repairs, I vowed to never again have any Narco equipment in any plane I owned. I'm guessing I wasn't the only one, and I'm sure that was a factor in Narco's demise, along with not having new, compelling products.

    Now, looking at what I'm going to need in the short to medium term, I'll need another Nav/Com, maybe an autopilot, and a replacement for the AI/FD and eventually the HSI (though that is working very well right now). Looking at the latest available from King and Garmin, I see this:

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    Which one of those do you think I'm going to choose? Which has a more reliable display? Which one will tell me who/what I'm tuned to?

    Looking at the autopilot options, it sounds like I could swap in the KFC 230 for my KFC 150 starting at $9,995, but while the Garmin GFC 500 will cost more, it'll also come with all new servos and everything else for much less than your new-installation price of $19,995.

    We would like a full glass panel, and the G500 TXi is on top of the list right now... I don't know much about your AeroVue Touch (hadn't even heard of it until just now) but it appears that it doesn't do engine monitoring. What does it cost? What advantages do you have over Garmin, if any?
     
  5. RFriesen

    RFriesen Filing Flight Plan

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    Steve,
    I very much appreciate your reaching out to the aviation community for feedback on Bendix-King products. I'm one of those many pilots who has waited and waited for a number of products only to see the release dates pass by again and again with no product launch. Somewhere in the last year I read that the Piper PA-46 was being flown and tested with the KFC230 autopilot. Your latest projection is now for a Q1 release in 2019 but I don't see any PA-46 on the STC list. So that means more waiting. I'm afraid by the time it actually comes out I too will have moved on to another product. I commend you for reaching out. I wish the entire Benix King team would follow your example. There is a lot of lost ground to be made up. An old saying "under promise - over deliver".
     
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  6. flyingcheesehead

    flyingcheesehead Touchdown! Greaser!

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    I see you joined today and this was your first post, @RFriesen... Welcome! You fly a PA-46?
     
  7. RFriesen

    RFriesen Filing Flight Plan

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    Yes, I have a tired KFC150 autopilot and have been frustrated waiting for the KFC230 to come on to the market.
     
  8. flyingcheesehead

    flyingcheesehead Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Yeah, the KFC150 is a great autopilot when it works, but all of the new stuff that has IAS modes and such would be even nicer.

    I'm just glad I don't have a KFC225. @peter-h has a breakdown of the issues they have here, and it's not pretty: http://www.peter2000.co.uk/aviation/kfc225/index.html

    After reading that, I'm not sure I want a King autopilot even if I can get one! :eek:

    I'm betting that Garmin will support the PA46 before King. It's on their list for the GFC 600 to begin certification within the next 12 months: https://buy.garmin.com/en-US/US/p/604258#additional
     
  9. Steve P

    Steve P Filing Flight Plan

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    @RFriesen,

    The PA-46, PA-60, and the PA-34 will be be in the second wave of airframes added to the STC about 3 months after the initial roll out. The way BendixKing has operated in the past is "over promise, under deliver" motto, but I'm hoping those days have passed and you should be seeing more products being released, and on time.

    If you have any questions let me know either here or Beechtalk, as many others my have the same question.
     
  10. Steve P

    Steve P Filing Flight Plan

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    @flyingcheesehead,

    Our new repair policy is best described as a hybrid between Garmin and Narco.

    There is a limited number of models that can still be field repaired, but the majority of the repairs have been brought in to a smaller group of large repair shops.

    These partners in the US are:

    Duncan Aviation
    Mid-Continent Instruments and Avionics
    Precision Aero Technology
    Southeast Aerospace
    BendixKing's repair shop in Olathe

    This has really helped turnaround time and made for better repairs overall. When we had everything field repairable some shops did a great job, and just shops did a not so good job. The units that got the "not so good job" often got sent back to our facility and the repairs that had to been done by us far exceeded what we charged for the flat rate. So the flat rate increased because of poor repairs.

    The ultimate goal of our new repair policy was to give customers faster turnaround times, higher standard of repairs, and help low our flat rates (which are still fairly high, but slowly decreasing).
     
  11. bnt83

    bnt83 Final Approach

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    Wow that was a painful read on the KFC225!
     
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  12. unsafervguy

    unsafervguy Cleared for Takeoff

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    I have always loved the kx-155, I have two now, too bad they both died at the same time. That being said, I’m going to be blunt, bk is years late and dollars short. Unless you come out with a fantastic line at a rock bottom price your doomed. To many years of no new products using new tech and top dollar prices have sealed bk’s fate. Come out with a new digital radio that will talk to the new Efis units hitting the market and price it a good bit south of the 255 and you might be able to turn it around. But realistically it will take full line of gps/Navi’s that out perform and have better user interfaces, and lower prices than Garmin or avidyne to save bk..

    Bob
     
  13. flyingcheesehead

    flyingcheesehead Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Makes sense... I think you missed the boat on at least one shop, though. Skycom Avionics in Waukesha, WI does fantastic component-level work - They're the ones who rescued my trim servo, and they rehabbed my KX-165 so it's good as new now. They really ought to be on your list.
     
  14. RFriesen

    RFriesen Filing Flight Plan

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    Thanks for the feedback. I hope that we can hold on until the STC for the PA-46 is done. I'm one who won't throw the towel in on BendixKing just yet, but time is running out with each day that passes.
     
  15. Eric Stoltz

    Eric Stoltz Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Bring back the KN-74!!
     
  16. chartbundle

    chartbundle Line Up and Wait

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    Don't worry, the KAP 150 has the same disconnect switch problem as I found out when mine failed. (Remember to disconnect from the AP front panel and not the red switch unless you have to.)

    DSC_2407.jpg.5deae7e3f2bb534af06e15a043c92548.jpg
     
  17. flyingcheesehead

    flyingcheesehead Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Hmmm. What was your problem? My red switch doesn't look anything like that - It's a single round button protruding from the yoke. What you posted looks more like my trim switch, but that has three switches inside, not two.
     
  18. chartbundle

    chartbundle Line Up and Wait

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    Yes, that's the interior of the red switch, it's a double pole, double throw, thus 6 contacts. In the Mooney at least all the servo current runs through the switch, so disconnecting it under load can cause problems as the switch isn't quite rated for the current. Much like the KFC225 discussion posted earlier. Eventually it self destructs, and since the current can no longer flow(the destroyed contact) it will fail the startup tests.
    82C9E1B4-3998-4E3D-AD48-45D980EAE624.jpeg
     
  19. SCCutler

    SCCutler Administrator Management Council Member

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    Cannot imagine why they'd send all that current along a lengthy path and through those contacts, rather than using relays.

     
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  20. flyingcheesehead

    flyingcheesehead Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Ah, yes. Starting to sound familiar now. Still having trouble wrapping my head around this picture containing the same parts as the previous one, though.

    There is a failure mode for something - Runaway trim, maybe? - where the solution is to hold down the disconnect, which interrupts current to everything. If there's a relay and that relay is broken, you're stuck hunting for a breaker and hoping you find it fast enough that you haven't lost control a la the Citation that went down in Lake Michigan with a transplant team aboard a few years ago. :(

    I think I need another trip through the book.

    Also, if you read Pete's accounts linked above, he discovered some truly appalling engineering decisions in the 225, as if the servos were designed by a brand-new intern instead of an experienced engineer, and somehow it all made it through certification.
     
  21. SCCutler

    SCCutler Administrator Management Council Member

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    I've read Peter's account, and found it appalling.
     
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  22. chartbundle

    chartbundle Line Up and Wait

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  23. Daniel Low

    Daniel Low Filing Flight Plan

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    Hallelujah! I have a Mooney 201 with a broken attitude indicator and have been waiting more than a year for certification. I will connect the KI 300 to my KAP 100 so I have to wait for the autopilot interface. I will remove my vacuum system and have an electric-only airplane without having to pay for yet another database and having OEM support for my autopilot.
     
  24. NavAir

    NavAir Pre-Flight

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    So does the KAP-140. This switch was the failure mode in my autopilot as well. Luckily, with two sets of contacts, I was able to move the wires over, and voila - a no cost fix. I have several spare switches as replacements now - the original only lasted 17 years.
     
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  25. flyingcheesehead

    flyingcheesehead Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Well, there's at least ONE KI-300 sold then. ;) I think there will be a few more, mostly in the 36 Bonanza crowd, since Garmin chose to shaft them by certifying the GFC 600 ($$$) and not the 500 on the 36s. But with a single servo overhaul for the KFC150 costing as much as an entire GFC500 system, there is almost no way we'll keep ours and buy a KI-300.
     
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  26. Daniel Low

    Daniel Low Filing Flight Plan

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    I have found that my KAP100 and its servo (single axis) have been very reliable (100%). I suppose I am taking a chance that my autopilot or servo will fail, but given that they have worked flawlessly (1986 Mooney, I bought in 2001), I am willing to take the risk, vs having to buy and install a new autopilot.

    If Garmin allowed their G5 attitude indicator to control my KAP 100, I would go that way. I also have no interest in installing an attitude indicator with an associated database (e.g. Aspen). I spend enough on databases as it is.
     
  27. Steve P

    Steve P Filing Flight Plan

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    @Daniel Low,

    Glad your KAP system is trucking along with no problems! We appreciate you hanging in there for the KI 300. Not much longer now.

    If you do ever get concerned about your servo failing, we do offer an extended warranty for legacy products. Just something to think about if you ever start having problems.
     
  28. CC268

    CC268 Final Approach

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    Interestingly enough, I work for HW (although I have nothing to do with BendixKing). Sadly, I agree with you. Kent's comparison photo above between the GNC225 and the KX165 speak volumes. It's an uphill battle. My dad and I recently replaced a KX170B in our aircraft and looked at all the various options (KX155 being one of them). It just didn't make sense. We ended up with a GNC 255 and a new Garmin G5 HSI, which is absolutely spectacular (although not cheap). We plan to put in a G5 AI at some point.

    Hats off to Steve for posting here, I think it's great that they are potentially trying to turn this around, but I do think it will be a long treacherous road to ever compete with Garmin/Dynon/etc. My impression from HW senior leadership was that they weren't all that interested in GA anymore, but I could be wrong (quite frankly I don't necessarily blame them - GA is a tough market). Software is certainly the big focus. Best of luck.
     
  29. Aviator305

    Aviator305 Filing Flight Plan

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    Steve, I have a Piper Autocontrol IIIb autopilot (my understanding is that this is identical to Century II). Can the KI 300 talk to my autopilot to maintain altitude? The Garmin G5 cannot, and I am wondering if this is an area where your product as an advantage.
     
  30. flyingcheesehead

    flyingcheesehead Touchdown! Greaser!

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    The problem is, they are, until they're not. I love the KFC150, when it works. But, I've probably dropped 10 AMUs on it to keep it working over the past 6.5 years, and the $9600 price for the trim servo (which we did not have to do, thanks to an excellent component-level guy at our avionics shop) was the last straw. I'm done. If it quits again, it's gone.

    I understand not wanting to replace a working autopilot. They're expensive. But the price of putting in the GFC500 isn't too far off the price of a single servo on the King, so when it fails, there's a decision to be made there. Also, we're planning to put in a G500 TXi at some point. At that point, we'll get quotes to put it in with the KFC150 remaining (which will require wiring up the GAD43e), vs. going fully digital by skipping the GAD43e and installing the GFC500. IIRC the GAD43e is around $5K by itself, which means there would be a significant "discount" on the GFC500. And, you know, "as long as we're in there..." :eek:

    If that was the case, we'd have installed two of them already. :(

    @Steve P, can you provide some details on that? What is the cost and coverage?

    And presumably, one must have this coverage BEFORE one ever "starts having problems"?

    Compared to the other available options, including a KI-525A overhaul, what is "not cheap" about the G5?

    There is NO indicator which can make an Autocontrol IIIb hold altitude. It is a single-axis autopilot, there is no servo to control the elevator to hold altitude with. You can get a pitch-only system, but I think that if you compare the price and capability of those systems compared with the other systems now on the market, you'll find you're better off simply installing a new autopilot. (Our flying club has a "franken-autopilot" with an Autocontrol, a second brand's altitude hold system, and a third brand's GPS Steering module... So it can be done, it's just no longer cost-effective.)

    For example, the S-TEC System 30 ALT does altitude hold only, but does not do anything with trim at all, it just lights up lights to signal you to trim for it... And it costs around $7K.

    The next step up is their System 60 PSS, which adds vertical speed and glideslope capture/hold, at over $10K, and still requires you to trim for it. But, you can add automatic electric trim (where the autopilot will take care of its own trim) for another $5K... And these aren't installed prices. That same $15K would give you a GFC500, with all of those features plus altitude preselect, airspeed hold for climbs, plus the G5 electronic attitude indicator, fully installed.
     
  31. CC268

    CC268 Final Approach

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    Woah there...where did I say it wasn't cheap compared to other available options? Jeez lol. Doesn't take away the fact that is was still expensive (maybe not to you, but for the average folk like my dad and I it was).
     
  32. Steve P

    Steve P Filing Flight Plan

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    @flyingcheesehead,

    You can enroll failed units, but the price goes up.

    In a nutshell the contract is for 3 years (charged annually) and it will cover the cost of the exchange unit, or repair if an exchange is not available. It also covers the cost of the labor for removal and installation. Cost is going to vary based on what you want covered.

    To put the servos on a KAP 100 system under warranty it's $444/year per servo. If a servo is failed that rate goes up to $540/year. It's a good way to streamline your maintenance costs, and not have to worry about big out of pocket costs.
     
  33. Steve P

    Steve P Filing Flight Plan

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  34. Aviator305

    Aviator305 Filing Flight Plan

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    5A836396-3FBA-47AC-A248-D32608F57F1E.jpeg
    I must not be describing my avionics correctly. I do have the ability to control pitch. I see no other labels other than Piper Autocontrol, so I assumed it was part of the same system. I believe what you’re saying, so I must already have the pitch-only system alongside the Autocontrol IIIb. So, I’ll reword my question and ask if the KI-300 can talk to that altitude-hold system. I have been told that the G5 cannot. I’m including a picture of that part of my panel.
     
  35. alfadog

    alfadog En-Route

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    S-TEC System Sixty PSS

    [​IMG]

    When coupled with an autopilot for lateral navigation, this stand-alone pitch axis autopilot system will further assist with altitude hold, rate climbs and descents, and, when on an ILS or LPV approach, capture and track the glideslope.
     
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  36. Aviator305

    Aviator305 Filing Flight Plan

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    THANKS!

    Can the KI300 talk to the S-TEC System Sixty PSS? I am told that the G5 cannot.
     
  37. flyingcheesehead

    flyingcheesehead Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Ah, yes. That is the S-TEC System 60 PSS.

    Now that you know what it is, I would ask your Garmin dealer again whether a G5 supports it. They may have simply thought you were asking a question like you asked here (ie "Can the G5 work with the Autocontrol IIIb to provide altitude hold"), to which the answer is definitely no. If they know you have the Autocontrol AND the 60 PSS, the answer may be different.
     
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  38. flyingcheesehead

    flyingcheesehead Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Ran into the owner of the avionics shop I use today... Avidyne is apparently also changing policies and asking for a minimum level of sales from their dealers now. So, he dropped the Avidyne dealership entirely rather than try to talk customers into buying something other than what they asked for.

    Seems kinda backwards, and I hope it's not the beginning of a trend.
     
  39. RFriesen

    RFriesen Filing Flight Plan

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    Steve,
    The end of 2018 is only 2 weeks away. Is the KFC 230 still on target for release and sale in the Q1 of 2019?
     
  40. flyingcheesehead

    flyingcheesehead Touchdown! Greaser!

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    iMooniac
    Wait, what??? Somehow I didn't catch this until now, but... Mooney M20L? Is that line missing the M, R, and S? The reason I ask is that the M20L is the "Porsche Mooney" which was the first long-body Mooney and had a Porsche engine, and only 41 were built. Seems like an odd thing to do first, if it's only the L?