This morning, Air Associates, hosted an open house at the KOJC airport. One of the planes on display was a re-branded Columbia 350. Cessna is calling this plane the Cessna 350. As you might know, Cessna purchased Columbia in late 2007 after Columbia declared bankruptcy. I must say this was a smart move for Cessna, because until now, they did not have anything to compete the composite market.
What were my impressions? I must say, the plane stood much taller than I had imagined — much taller than a Diamond DA40XL. However, the primary competitor is not a DA40XL, but more the Cirrus SR22.
The Cessna 350 had an amazing ramp presence but the visibility from the cockpit was not quite as good as the DA40XL. I have not sat in a SR22, but Cessna reps were claiming that it has more overall glass than the SR22. Another thing I noted was there was more to the cockpit in terms of controls scattered than what I am used to in the DA40XL. The plane does have some advanced features like speedbreaks. I’m not sure we’ll be seeing this plane on the rental line anytime soon, but time will tell.
Last spring when I visited the Cessna Plant in Independence Kansas, they told us that 2006 was the last year could order standard round instrument gauges (commonly referred in the Cessna world as Nav I and Nav II avionics packages); being replaced by the new Garmin G1000 system (called Nav III). I was a little surprised at this decision given the G1000 had only been out a short while, however, on the trip to KIDP, I got my first taste of a G1000 equipped aircraft and although a little bit overwhelmed at first — mostly because I was flying a Turbo 182 for the first time — it was a very fun system to fly — with some CFI guidance in the next seat. Find out all about my G1000 checkout after the jump.