Regardless of the name or hardware or software changes, the Corvalis TTx is still a Corvalis, and all of the defining features that made it a star — the sleek lines, gull-wing doors, sports-car styling and powerful performance — remain in place. As far as the paint scheme is concerned, the colorful postmodern look on Cessna’s demo airplane was intended to be eye-catching at an airshow, and it is at that. It is also, I might add, done not with transfers but with paint. The TTx can actually be painted a variety of colors, some of them quite dark by traditional composite standards. The reason you can’t use dark colors on composites is because dark colors retain heat, which will weaken the composites. Cessna is confident that with new processes and materials in place, it will be able to paint the TTx in a wide variety of colors — OK, not black, if anyone was interested in going really dark. This will allow customers to come up with paint schemes that are completely one-off, something that Cessna hopes will inspire its customers, for many of whom the TTx will be a purely personal airplane.
The fresh start was in evidence when we flew the new TTx for the first time out of Cessna’s flight-test development center at Wichita’s Midcontinent Airport on a blisteringly hot summer day with Cessna chief pilot Kirby Ortega. How hot was it? It was 108 degrees F in the shade. At 4,500 feet, it was ISA+27. That’s how hot it was.
So this is a good time to mention that the TTx comes standard with factory air conditioning, which allowed us, after startup, to brief the flight on the ground, call for clearance and taxi, take off and get to altitude in a cockpit that was comfortable enough — it would have been unbearable, I know from experience, without the air. Air conditioning might seem like a luxury to you, but on a day like that, it’s pretty darn close to being a necessity.
The biggest change is to the panel with the replacement of the G1000 suite with the all-new G2000 avionics package, which Cessna calls Intrinzic. G2000 is the next generation of Garmin avionics, and it is very closely related to the G3000 and G5000 glass cockpits under development for installation into a number of jets, including the HondaJet, the Learjets 70 and 75, and a quartet of Cessnas, the M2 CitationJet update, the Latitude, the Longitude and the Citation Ten. Indeed, the G2000 suite is closely related to Garmin’s GTN panel mount navigators and even its portables, all of which share a common philosophy of shallow menus, a highly graphical user interface and easy expandability.
In the Corvalis the G2000 suite is set up with a pair of widescreen 14-inch displays, a PFD and a fully reversionary MFD, along with a touch-screen controller, the GTC 570, which is located on the pedestal below and between the two displays, so it can be operated by either the left seat or right seat occupant. The GFC 700 autopilot control panel is on the glareshield, which I believe is the ideal place for it to be so that the pilot operating it can stay heads-up while controlling it and so that the autopilot functions are effectively segregated from the rest of the panel controls.
Speaking of the autopilot, the TTx is the first Cessna with ESP, Garmin’s envelope protection utility, including protection against overbanking, excessive rate of descent, excessive airspeed, hypoxia and more. ESP is a major improvement in terms of safety.
The widescreen displays on the G2000 allow you to effectively double or triple the number of displays in the cockpit, because you can create windows within the displays. For example, on the MFD during an RNAV approach to nearby Hutchinson, Kansas, we could see the Jeppesen approach chart (georeferenced with the airplane icon clearly shown), the moving map with integral flight plan, engine instruments and other systems annunciations, including groundspeed, flap position, time to destination and more. It’s brilliant.
The PFD, which features Garmin’s SVT synthetic vision display, is just as wide but shows less information. There is a pop-up window on the lower left side of the displays for traffic, and it’s nice to have, especially since it’s larger, and therefore more useful, than the similar pop-up window on G1000.
The other big change embodied by the TTx is flight into known icing (FIKI) approval, a process that Cessna had been heavily engaged in prior to the production shutdown. Not only did we not need ice protection on our ISA+27-degree flight that day, but it also wasn’t yet available. Cessna does expect it to be ready for initial deliveries, scheduled for the end of the year. The new FIKI system will be a TKS fluid dispersal system, just as on Cessna’s turboprop single Caravan and the Corvalis’ main competitor, the Cirrus SR22. The system on the TTx will have similar capabilities to its competitor’s, which is to say impressive ones. The FIKI system will have more than two hours’ capacity at normal flow rates and will allow for deicing of the wings, windscreen, prop and tail surfaces. In addition, there are ice lights and integrated monitoring of the system on the G2000.