August 2019

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Subscribers Only - Youíve got the airplane partly configured for landing on a long final and the tower hasnít yet cleared you to land, but says to continue at best speed. To make the airplane go faster, you retract the landing gear and clean up the flaps. Then youíre instructed to do a present-position 360 because the sequencing just isnít working out and a Falcon is beating you to the runway. Halfway through your circle, the tower clears you to land, you tuck in on final, put in some flaps and come over the numbers kind of hot. Something definitely isnít right in last two seconds of the flare because the tires arenít touching.

Electronic Ignition: Coming of Age

Subscribers Only - Magnetos always fire the spark plugs at the same point-on the order of 25 degrees before top dead center (TDC)-and rely on the combustion event to carry on by itself to reach maximum pressure by the time the piston reaches 11 to 17 degrees past TDC. Mags put out a spark of on the order of 12,000 volts. The downside: At 500 hours it's time to pull mags for inspection and repair or replacement. That's not cheap.

Top Avionics Upgrades: Choices For All Budgets

Of course the dense market doesn't make an already difficult buying decision any easier. So to help sort it out, in this article we'll offer an around-the-bases look at the most popular new avionics configurations-from entry-level (for basic aircraft) to higher-budget (for go-places higher-end machines). The idea is to arm you with enough knowledge to talk the talk with your avionics shop when they make suggestions for a package. It's also time for our ADS-B buyer's guide, and it follows this article. Let's begin with an ADS-B wrap-up.

Spinner Upkeep: More Than Aesthetics

Subscribers Only - About the only time we pay much attention to propeller spinners is when cleaning the bugs off, and hopefully at the annual inspection. Truth is, spinners are one of the most overlooked parts on the airplane because they're generally trouble-free. It's an accessory that is always there (although they can depart the airplane), subtly adding to the look of your aircraft and frankly, as something pointy out front where it pierces the air and helps the plane get the most speed, engine cooling and power.

Digital Fuel Quantity: More Than a Display

Subscribers Only - That's what you'll likely find when your aircraft is in for an engine display upgrade and your avionics shop suggests-as they should-to overhaul or repair the fuel quantity senders. Aside from having to drain the fuel tanks, this creates extra work for the installer because chances are they'll have to send the sensors off for overhaul. We've found that for some shops, dealing with old OEM sensors is uncharted territory. The task has to begin with good documentation, and that includes having the aircraft maintenance manual.

Mooney 231/252

Subscribers Only - Mooney came into the turbocharging game relatively late compared to other manufacturers. In 1966, Cessna pioneered the market with the T210 and made a strong showing in the single-engine, high-altitude market. Beech brought out the V35TC in 1966, but it was never as strong a seller as the A36. Mooney wasn't completely flat-footed during the 1960s, introducing the 310-HP M22 Mustang in 1967, a big brute of an airplane that was as ugly as it was unsuccessful.

FAA: Check GPS, ADS-B

If you fly with a Spot portable satellite messenger, use caution when placing the device around GPS receivers and antennas. In an Information for Operators publication (InFO 19006, May 6, 2019) the FAA advises that it has been notified of "several instances of intermittent loss of GPS position information" when Spot messengers are used in the cabin. It also noted that the signal problem could also affect ADS-B systems. In the FAA InFO letter, the agency reiterated that it was aircraft operators who confirmed the use of Spot PED as the cause of the GPS interference.

The Insurance Market Has Hardened

You've got the airplane partly configured for landing on a long final and the tower hasn't yet cleared you to land, but says to continue at best speed. To make the airplane go faster, you retract the landing gear and clean up the flaps. Then you're instructed to do a present-position 360 because the sequencing just isn't working out and a Falcon is beating you to the runway. Halfway through your circle, the tower clears you to land, you tuck in on final, put in some flaps and come over the numbers kind of hot. Something definitely isn't right in last two seconds of the flare because the tires aren't touching. -But then the propellers do, and so does the belly. At least you've stopped at the first taxiway so they can get your broken piece of metal off the runway quickly so the ramp gawkers can see it hanging off the wrecker. A sickening experience, yes, and a bad ending to an otherwise good business trip with the airplane. But isn't that what insurance is for?

Letters From Readers: August 2019

We asked Garmin about this requirement and it responded: "Yes, the STC'd G3X Touch does require standbys for an IFR installation like John describes (just like most EFIS/PFD installations). But the good news: A single G5 can take the place of the vacuum attitude, the mechanical airspeed and mechanical altimeter. The G5 attitude instrument is also highly integrated with the G3X Touch. We thought that was a great deal versus having to keep the old iron gyro equipment or install a more expensive electronic standby, like a Mid-Continent Instruments and Avionics MD302, to name one."

Alpha Electro: One Fish, Small Pond

Despite the lack of a refined regulatory framework, Pipistrel is finding buyers for the Electro around the world, although not in large volume. But between Electro sales, legacy gasoline models and an aspirational urban air mobility market, Pipistrel recently opened a new factory in Gorizia, Italy, just across the border from its headquarters in Slovenia. The new facility is large and has vastly more capacity then it's using now. When I visited in May 2019, the company was building as many as five Electros a month.