Flying the Cessna Corvalis TTX: A Whole New Adventure

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October 2012

 The new Cessna model T240 Corvalis TTX is now touring the United States prior to deliveries scheduled for 2013. This is the latest refinement of the carbon fiber and fiberglass airframe Cessna purchased to enter the high performance single engine market.


The “TT” stands for twin turbo with an intercooler feeding a 310 hp Continental Motors TSIO-550-C engine. The “X,” well, maybe it stands for a little extra—such as the all-new Garmin G2000 panel that takes the user interface to a new level.

 

WALKAROUND

Kirby Ortega, my Cessna host and chief pilot for piston operations at Cessna Aircraft Co., provided me with a walkaround of the Corvalis TTX. My first impression was that the TTX is a “go fast” aircraft—the small frontal area and raked windscreen are hard to miss. Starting at the nose of the TTX, the bug-eye cooling air inlets optimize cooling air through-put and minimize drag. The prop has heated pads at the blade base for de-icing.

Moving to the left wing leading edge, I could see the shiny TKS de-icing leading edges (so-called “weeping wings”). There is no windshield heat, so this de-ice system is not certified for known icing; it is only useful to get out of unexpected icing encounters.


Flight into known icing (FIKI) is slated for future models and will include a TKS for the windshield. The horizontal stab TKS panel will be fully recessed that will increase cruise speed slightly.

The drooped leading edge in front of the ailerons modifies the chord to reduce the angle of attack in relation to the inboard wing section’s angle of attack. This ensures that the inboard wing section will stall first. The drooped leading edges—in conjunction with the rudder limiter and features incorporated into the elevator—provide docile low-speed handling characteristics with full aileron authority.

Recessed electric spoilers are located on the center rear of each wing and deploy on command to slow down this low-drag airframe. Low-drag wheel pants help you go fast, but are brutal on brake cooling. Differential brake steering adds to the need for additional cooling. The aft-facing hole near the top of the wheel pant draws air over the brakes and exits the wheel pant through this opening.

I stepped up on the wing and entered the cockpit through one of the gull-wing doors—similar to what you find in an upscale sport car. Once you close the doors (held up by a gas cylinder) and activate the pressurized door seal, the cabin is whisper-quiet.


FLIGHT

When you slip into the TTX’s cockpit, the seat folds around you like a glove. Buckle up the three-point shoulder and seat belt, and you are truly part the airplane. With side-stick controllers, you’ll have a full view of the G2000 panels. Engine start is straightforward, and then you follow the checklist to bring the aircraft systems to life.

Gradual power adjustments are easy with the vernier throttle to taxi out of the chocks. Differential braking is a change from what I’m used to, and it takes some time to adapt and get the feel for how much to brake is required to initiate a turn combined with rudder movement to assist this maneuver.

The flaps have three positions: up, takeoff, and landing. Set the flaps for takeoff, line up on the centerline and smoothly apply power to the 310 hp turbocharged Continental engine and down the runway you go. Differential rudder keeps you tracking until you reach liftoff speed—and then you are flying. Raise the flaps and continue your climb.

Fingertips can control the TTX nicely. The side-stick controller is finger-light, particularly in roll. The stick has electric pitch control, but no yaw trim.

The aircraft uses a rudder hold control that acts like a rudder trim. Change power settings or airspeeds, then disengage and re-engage the rudder hold control. The system works fine.

Cessna calls the Garmin G2000 system the heart of its “Intrinzic” cockpit, which is centered on two 14.1-inch high definition LED monitors serving as PFD and MFD. In the center console is the touch screen controller, which will do all but a few commands you need without touching a button or knob.

As Ortega explained to me, “Touch the Home icon on the controller, then touch what you want to do.” It really is that easy. During our flight I don’t believe I made any changes to frequencies or pulling up data except using the very intuitive touch screen controller. This touch screen architecture follows the same logic as the Garmin GTN 750 and other new Garmin hardware and software (Garmin Pilot) offerings.

Flying at 8,500 feet, Ortega demonstrated the two power settings. Setting power at rich of peak showed 195 knots TAS burning 20 gph. Leaning to lean of peak indicted 184 knots TAS burning 15 gph. These numbers are close to what you will see in the checklist power settings.

While the TTX is certified to FL 250 with 235 knots TAS, most pilots will typically fly between 12,000 to 18,000 feet. The flight manual shows 207 knots TAS at 12,000 feet. At these altitudes, if you have oxygen problems you have more time to recognize the situation and less altitude to lose in descending. Located in the lower left side of the panel is a CO monitor and pulse oximeter. When you register a low oxygen level on the monitor, descend to a lower altitude.

The MFD can display in single view or in a split-screen mode. On approaches, the plan navigation display gives you the big picture and the georeferenced approach plate plus the GFC 700 autopilot make approaches hassle-free.

Landing takes preplanning in order to slow down to approach speeds. The speed brakes are there to back you up in case you need to slow down faster. Lower flaps to the landing position and then fly the visual approach, being careful to not over-control the sensitive control stick.

After landing, the SafeTaxi airport diagram shows you exactly where you are on the airport and gives you an easy to interpret method to follow the ground controller’s instructions.

After our flight, I got out of the aircraft and didn’t realize that I had been in a cockpit for an hour and a half. That is the sign of a truly comfortable cockpit seat!

SYSTEMS

Any aircraft in the TTX class needs redundancy to travel long distances at high altitudes and speed in all types of weather.

The TTX is an all-electric aircraft making redundant 70 amp alternators a smart design decision for safety of flight. Either alternator can handle the entire electrical load with no load shedding required to continue the flight. One alternator is gear-driven from the front of the engine and the second unit is belt-driven on the rear of the engine. These alternators feed a split bus that is cross-tied in case of an alternator failure.

The Garmin G2000 has the same displays and controller hardware announced for the Citation M2 (Garmin G3000) and Citation Ten (Garmin G5000). Programming for the G3000 and G5000 will be slightly different to accommodate the different aircraft system requirements, but the basic hardware and architecture is the same.

Again, the TTX has two of everything that is necessary for safety of flight—and one of everything else you’ve ever dreamed of for a high performance single engine aircraft. If either the PFD or MFD fails, you can create a composite display on the remaining active display. Dual WAAS GPS Nav/Coms, VOR receivers, AHRS and magnetometers are standard. All of these systems use solid-state electronics, which have exceptionally long mean time between failure (MTBF) statistics.

Other redundant systems include dual TKS fuselage pumps, where the pumps alternate to prevent latent failure with one able to provide the necessary TKS flow. The dual turbocharger intercoolers are connected to balance flow between the two units. While one turbocharger is not sized to maintain the total boost needed throughout the flight envelope, the one operating turbocharger will maintain boost in a reduced operating envelope.

Cessna has not quantified this reduced performance envelope since numerous failure modes will impact engine performance in unique ways. It is comforting to know that there are two of these essential flight safety items on board to help you land safely under virtually all of the most serious scenarios.

Traffic and weather units are standard. A GTX 33ES Mode S Extended Squitter transponder coupled with the GTS 800 Traffic Advisory System provide today’s TCAS advisories along with ADS-B Out and In capabilities. NEXRAD by Sirius XM satellite weather (plus Sirius XM satellite radio) comes via the GDL 69A satellite data link receiver.

Garmin’s Synthetic Vision Technology (SVT) uses GPS location information combined with a terrain database to depict a three-dimensional view of terrain and water (including obstacles). This synthetic view combines with traffic inputs to provide a 3D perspective of the surrounding traffic in the area. SVT provides additional situational awareness, regardless of weather conditions surrounding the aircraft.

The Corvalis TTX’s Electronic Stability Protection (ESP) coupled with the GFC 700 autopilot monitors pitch and roll parameters plus stall onset, steep spirals and overspeed conditions. Monitoring all these and other loss-of-control conditions may assist the pilot in recovery from most situations outside the aircraft flight envelope.

The Corvalis structure has a rollover cage that provides for occupants’ safety. The wings contain dual spars certified to a significantly higher wing loading than what is required for the aircraft’s Utility Category certification. The dual wing spars provide rupture protection for the fuel cells (the cells are located between the spars). Finally, using liberal carbon fiber composite construction throughout the airframe can provide up to three times more strength for a given material weight than traditional materials.

COMPARISON

How does the Corvalis TTX stack up against the competition?


• Speed: Fastest in its class. 235 knots at FL 250; 195 knots at 8,000 feet.


• Ceiling: Certified to FL 250. Higher ceiling than any other high performance piston single engine aircraft.


• Avionics Technology: First to offer Garmin’s G2000 avionics system. Cessna calls it the Intrinzic cockpit.


• Aerodynamics: Certified in the Utility Category with docile stall characteristics.

CONCLUSION

For a $650,000 price tag, an owner should expect to receive a world-class aircraft. Cessna’s entry into the high performance single engine market with the Corvalis TTX is a most worthy product. I was impressed with how the TTX flew, as well as the company’s attention to the multitude of standard redundant systems installed in this aircraft.

 

 

Charles Lloyd has logged 10,000 hours since his first flying lesson in 1954. He worked for Cessna Aircraft for 16 years. Lloyd retired as captain of a Citation Encore Plus for a major fractional aircraft ownership company. He flies a tricked-out 1966 Cessna 182—also known as Bill—that is a great business tool for his real estate investment company. Send questions or comments to .

 


RESOURCES
Cessna Aircraft Co.
(800) 423-7762
cessna.com/single-engine/
corvalis-ttx.html

 

 

Cessna Corvalis TTX

 

Performance 

Maximum Cruise Speed: 235 ktas

Maximum Range: 1 1,250 nm

Takeoff Distance (S.L., ISA, MTOW) 2: 1,900 feet

Ground Roll: 1,280 feet

Landing Distance (S.L., ISA, MLW): 2,640 feet

Ground Roll: 1,260 feet

Maximum Operating Altitude: 25,000 feet

Maximum Climb Rate (Sea Level): 1,400 fpm

VNE: 230 kias

Stall Speed: 60 kcas

1 45 minute fuel reserves, 45 percent power at 25,000 feet.

2 Distance to 50 feet above the runway.

 

Specifications

Avionics: Intrinzic (Garmin G2000)

Powerplant: 310 hp Continental Motors
TSIO-550-C

Propeller: McCauley, 3 blade metal, constant speed

Maximum Takeoff Weight: 3,600 pounds

Usable Fuel: 102 gallons

Typically-Equipped Empty Weight1:
2,600 pounds

Useful Load: 1,000 pounds

Maximum Payload: 700 pounds

Full Fuel Payload: 388 pounds

           

Dimensions

Exterior Length: 25 feet, 2 inches

Wingspan: 36 feet

Cabin Length2: 11 feet, 8 inches

Maximum Height: 49 inches

Maximum Width: 48 inches

Seating Capacity: 4

           

Pricing/Operating Cost

Base Price 3: $733,950


1 Empty weight does not include a pilot. Actual empty weight can vary based on installed options.

2 From front bulkhead to rear bulkhead.

3 Price represents 2012 U.S. dollars.

 

 

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