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Travel Report

A Travel Report by Dr. Michael Offermann

MMIG46 had sent out invitations for the Spring Technical Meeting and unusually many turned up. By the end of the weekend in Genk-Zwarberg (EBZW) there were 25 planes parked in front of the Smets Aviation Hangar.

Perhaps the program was unusually attractive.

Ulf Mühlbacher told us about his planned trip around the world in his JetProp. P&W were there. DETA was represented by the boss, Mads Jensen, who explained the advantages of engine monitoring professionally and clearly, albeit with his rye bread accent. MT Propeller reported on a possible modification for JetProps – a 50% lighter propeller which would greatly improve the take-off roll-distance performance. And then there was Mr Darwin Conrad, as large as life. Just a few of the highlights.

Conrad’s talk was somewhat trivial, but we appreciated his Ray Charles outfit. The presentation of the JetProp philosophy and history, with which we are all familiar, was somewhat standard, but in the question and answer session Conrad gave detailed and patient responses to all our queries. On the other hand, the Americans still don’t seem to have grasped the difference between US and EU customers. Perhaps it is too much to expect a technical genius to be a brilliant salesman or marketing strategist at the same time. It is a pity that there was no Special Offer, limited to the weekend, to compensate for the price increase at P&W, which would have enabled just one more 21 Conversion there and then.

The establishment of cause and effect concerning massive damage to a runaway PT6 might also have been handled a little more diplomatically.

On the other hand, Maurice Smets and his wife were the perfect hosts with their professional know-how and style.

With considerable effort the otherwise rather sterile hangar had been converted into a conference centre, with its own buffet, beer and wine – something for everyone’s taste.

Smets is definitely a traditionalist in every way. Customer satisfaction is the most important thing for him – and this you notice. And where else could this philosophy be more welcome than at a meeting about the technically complex and safety-related issues of a complicated machine like the Malibu?

You can, but you don’t have to fly south to feel pampered in your freshly serviced Malibu or JetProp. Service is often much nearer than you think.

During the core group’s excursion to Brussels with draught Belgian beer and 5-star dinner, there were two impressions in particular: Firstly, Brussels is now incredibly expensive. MEP’s have forced rents and restaurant prices through the roof with their high salaries. Secondly, our group has regained its European character. After many years absence, Alan Robinson and his wife have returned to MMIG46 and so German is no longer the only language being spoken. Alan has now invited MMIG46 to England with the best references, as he is CEO of two of the larger privatised airports and knows the British scene well. This makes a meeting in England or Scotland more than likely at some time in the future.

Last, but not least, the author’s totally unrepresentative opinion: The MMIG46 now seems to have grown up in the technical field as well. The original idea formulated at the founding meeting in Kassel in 1999 to make improvements in everything concerning the Malibu, including technical aspects, is now coming to fruition. And everybody benefits. Serious failings in maintenance have, in the last seven years, been identified and eliminated. The questions at hearings and lectures have become more qualified. The level of discussions has greatly improved, as can be seen by the debate concerning the Mode S / diversity introduction.

With its mixture of tourist and technical meetings, the MMIG46 is following well in the tracks of MMOPA.

© MMIG46 e.V.