March 2015

March 2015 Full Issue PDF

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How About Maintenance?

Subscribers Only - Simple as they are, vintage taildraggers are equally simple to maintain. And even though the original Cubs are 77 years old, parts and support of various kinds are widely available. “It’s probably the only airplane you can build today from the combination of three catalogs: Univair, Wag-Aero and an engine shop. You can buy everything to build one,” says Cub Club’s Steve Krog. And that includes major parts, such as control surfaces, wing parts, gear components and so forth.

P210 Prangs: Engines and Fuel

Subscribers Only - When we broke down the 100 most recent P210 accidents, 24 engine/mechanical events topped the list—a rate consistent with other big-bore singles. Of the engine failures, a third were due to improper maintenance, including everything from the wrong bolt torque to use of non-aviation hoses for the turbocharger oil supply and return lines. In that case, the hoses developed numerous leaks, spraying oil throughout the engine room, leading to an inflight fire.

Keeping The Starter Engaged

Subscribers Only - The good news is that newer design starters don’t need any preventive maintenance. If the starter has permanent magnets, as do all lightweight starters, there’s no requirement or even recommendation for preventive maintenance. Rich Chaffee, general manager of Sky-Tec, put it bluntly, “Just use it.”

Grove: Better Brakes for Cubs

Subscribers Only - Piper Cubs are known for a lot of things, but good brakes aren’t among them, at least if we’re talking OEM equipment. Our pre-war Cub had the original expander tube brakes that, although rebuilt and well maintained, worked sporadically well at best.

Feedback Wanted: Taylorcraft

Subscribers Only - For the June 2015 issue of Aviation Consumer, our Used Aircraft Guide will be on the Taylorcraft, the classic two-seat taildragger. We want to know what it’s like to own these planes, how much they cost to operate, maintain and insure and what they’re like to fly. If you’d like your airplane to appear in the magazine, send us any photographs (full-size, high-resolution) you’d like to share to the email below. We welcome information on mods, support organizations or any other comments. Please send correspondence on the Taylorcraft by April 1, 2015, to:

Utility at a Glance

Subscribers Only - Clockwise from upper left: Notice the pop-up at the lower right corner of the screen, advising that you are exiting the holding pattern at the GITKE fix. With this prompting, you’ll always know how the navigator is treating a hold in lieu of a procedure turn. Detailed onscreen approach information means there is less glancing down at charts. This includes crossing altitudes and intercept altitudes. The IFD540 has plenty of highly configurable data blocks along the sides and upper portion of the display. Notice the ATC facility name in the comm frequency window, in case you forget who you’re talking with.

IFD540 Hits and Misses

Subscribers Only - There is a lot to like about the IFD540, including clever mode/rocker bezel switches, plus softkeys that Avidyne calls Hybrid Touch, for the ability to also touch onscreen labels. The configurable moving map data fields put a huge amount of information in the pilot’s glance and comm frequency decoding is useful. The ability to see the graphical route—as well as the flight plan simultaneously—is a huge improvement and having altitudes displayed on an approach could conceivably prevent a tragedy one day. But I also uncovered some warts that left me scratching my head.

What About the Apache?

Subscribers Only - Affectionately known as the world’s largest flying sweet potato or “Da Pop,” because all Apache N-numbers originally ended in Papa, the Apache and Geronimo conversions of it, are still seen on training school flight lines.

IFly GPS Standout Features

Subscribers Only - Clockwise from upper left: A screenshot of the iFly RealView imaging feature displaying a satellite view of Hartford Brainard Airport in Connecticut. The course line shows navigation to the center of field. This utility makes it easy to find an unfamiliar airfield, in our view. Basic round-gauge instruments, including HSI, groundspeed and GPS altitude are highly configurable. Pitch and roll data can be displayed on a round-gauge horizon display with an appropriate AHRS input. The square to the left of the groundspeed indicator is a traffic alert box, for displaying ADS-B traffic data. Chubby fingers will get along well with the onscreen keyboard. It is used for entering flight plan data and for searching waypoints. The iFly GPS app shares the same feature set and graphics as the iFly GPS 720, and the improved iFly 740 dedicated tablet navigators.

First Word: March 2015

Affordable aircraft is the name of a developing niche market that made its debut at this year’s U.S. Sport Aviation Expo in Sebring, Florida. The annual LSA show was even rebranded the Affordable Aircraft Expo, and includes older Part 23 certified airplanes fully or partially rebuilt to like-new standards. If it sounds like competition for the LSA market, it is. Sacrificing high-end avionics in favor of basic steam-gauge instruments and minimal radio stacks can drop the price of a basic refurbed model below the critical $100,000 price point—a target that many advanced LSA models miss.

Letters: March 2015

I always enjoy reading Aviation Consumer, and it was nice to see the article on survival kits in your February 2015 issue. I won’t pick the article apart and go into what should have been included, but it would be nice to see future articles on survival kits for different geographical regions, such as the tropics, the desert and so forth because each area has its own challenges.

IFD540 Flight Trial: Data-Rich, Configurable

Subscribers Only - After long certification delays, Avidyne is now shipping its IFD540 navigator, a unit billed as a while-you-wait slide-in replacement for Garmin’s GNS530W. Since Garmin has not offered a slide-in version of its flagship GTN750 navigator, the 540 is appealing to buyers looking for better flight planning capability, improved graphics and a hybrid touchscreen display, all without having to deal with a time-consuming and pricey installation. With a list price just shy of $17,000, the 540 is a sizable investment that has many readers asking if the unit offers enough real-world functionality to ditch a functional and reliable GNS530W. Further, how tough is the learning curve, especially for those not intimately familiar with a GNS530? In this article, I’ll attempt to answer this, based on months of flying with the IFD540 during a variety of IFR and VFR missions. We covered the IFD540 feature set in previous articles, so I’ll jump right into advanced system operation here.

Multi-Engine Trainers: A Strong Field

Subscribers Only - Acquiring a multi-engine rating is a rite of passage for any pilot who dreams of flying for a living. There’s no denying the feeling of power you get on first grabbing a fistful of throttles and shoving them up to the stop. There’s also no denying that, unless you pay for a type rating yourself, it’s the most costly rating you’ll get on a per-hour basis. With the market offering three production twins being regularly used as trainers, we were curious as to how they stacked up. We flew each one, spoke to several instructors at flight schools that did a significant amount of multi-engine instruction and used an out-of-production twin that’s still used for training for comparison. After all the Vmc demos and engine-out simulations, we came away of the opinion that all of the airplanes have some weaknesses, but none that are crippling—although someone who learns in a Twin Star will need significant additional training to fly anything other than a jet—and that the Tecnam P2006T has the potential to take over the multi-engine training market.

Legacy Light Sport: Cub vs. Champ

Subscribers Only - While pilots grow old waiting for the FAA to reform the Third Class medical, light sport flying remains the last refuge to stay in the air. And vintage airplanes like Piper’s venerable J-3 Cub or the Aeronca Champion actually promise affordability, if not comfort and technological panache.

Starter Replacement: Consider Weight, Hot Starts

Master switch—on. Mixture—rich. Fuel pump—on until pressure registers, then off. Ignition key—start. Silence. Fortunately that result is rare. Almost invariably, when we turn the ignition key to start or hit a starter button on a piston-engine airplane, the starter engages and the prop swings with vigor. Over the past 20 years, new technology has made aircraft starters remarkably reliable—the newer ones should last beyond the engine’s TBO, if not abused. So, when there’s a big silence on hitting the start switch, the chances are that the problem is not with the starter itself. Nevertheless, the time does come when the starter slips its mortal coil and must either be replaced, rebuilt or overhauled. We’ll talk about how to make your starter last, a little about troubleshooting problems and what options are available when it gives up the ghost.

iFly GPS App: Multi-Device, Intuitive

Subscribers Only - The iFly GPS app from Adventure Pilot was born from the iFly 700-series GPS navigator, an intuitive tablet-based EFB that is being redesigned to include a better display and internal power supply. What got our attention is the iFly app’s flexibility to run on both the iPad and Android devices, a rare and welcomed option in the world of aviation apps. After flying with iFly GPS on both platforms, we like its simple flight planning and data entry process, shallow menu structure and useful graphics.

Beringer Brakes: Lightweight, Anti-Skid

Subscribers Only - Using its experience building patented motorcycle racing brakes, wheels and forks, French manufacturer Beringer Aero brings modern braking technology to small aircraft with a new line of bolt-on brake components and wheels. Said to be the lightest brakes and wheels available for small aircraft, Beringer’s components are now used by several OEMs, including Cirrus, Diamond and Pilatus, in addition to a long list of LSA and experimental kit manufacturers. The product line is unique because it includes an anti-skid feature, plus wheels that accommodate tubeless tire installations. We took a close look at Beringer’s line of brakes and wheels for LSA applications at this year’s U.S. Sport Aviation Expo, and also sampled its larger braking system in a new Cirrus. We think the technology represents the next generation of aircraft brakes.

Aircraft Weighing: Worth the Price and Effort

Unless your aircraft has never been modified, there is a good chance there are at least some discrepancies in its weight and balance data. I learned that firsthand when I worked as an avionics tech, discovering equipment that was installed and removed from some aircraft without being documented. Computing a new report for these aircraft was pointless. After all, you need to start a revision with accurate basic empty weight and reference datum figures. In many cases, the only way to do that is to have the aircraft weighed.

Cessna P210 Centurion

Subscribers Only - To gain sizable amounts of speed and efficiency, you’ll generally have to fly in the mid to upper teens and higher. And to do that, you’ll have to make a choice: stick an oxygen hose (or mask) in your nose or pay for the convenience of pressurization. Due to market demand and high production costs, the choices for single-engine models are limited to Cessna’s P210 and the Piper Malibu. Pressurizing anything, let alone a single, is fraught with difficulty. Part of it comes in the form of mechanical woes—the engines are short-lived, often don’t make it to TBO and they cost a lot to overhaul. Pressurization adds another complex system to maintain and operate. Part of it comes in mundane problems: separate, unpressurized baggage compartments and the need to fit everything that goes into the cabin through the pilot’s door. Then, of course, there’s the extra premium in first place: as of winter 2015, a 1981 P210 costs about $25,000 more than a 1981 T210.