May 2016

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Subscribers Only - After researching lots of NTSB reports each month, it does make me wonder if the regs still matter. They should matter because they are the rules and responsible pilots follow rules, right? But how many other pilots are taking this do-what-I-want approach to flying because of the outdated medical requirements, not to mention a stale Part 23? Since flying—and aircraft ownership in general—is based almost entirely on the honor system, it’s impossible to know exactly how many pilots fly without medicals, in unairworthy aircraft and without flight reviews.

It’s All in the Timing

Subscribers Only - When sending the high-energy burst of electricity to the spark plugs, the magneto has to do so at the right split second—every time. That requires that the mag be timed internally and externally. Setting the internal timing requires that the mag be removed from the engine and opened up. It should be performed every 500 hours of operation. External timing is done with the mags on the engine and should be done every 100 hours…

PA-46 Series Wrecks: IMC Issues

Subscribers Only - We went through the NTSB’s accident database for the most recent 100 accidents involving the PA-46 piston series—Malibu, Mirage and Matrix—and found that the early engine and nose landing gear issues with the airplane appear to have been resolved. We did, however, see what we felt to be an uncomfortably high rate of accidents in IMC involving spatial disorientation, CFIT and loss of control. …

Are More Pilots Blowing Off the Regs?

One of our readers—an airplane owner and active CFI—recently called to ask why the magazine doesn’t bring more attention to rule-bending, which he thinks is a growing trend. Although he had no hard statistics to back up his assertion, he offered the stereotype that older and financially capable pilots with medical issues are getting their hands on technically advanced and highly automated aircraft (yes, he mentions Cirrus). He went on that the combination of an aging pilot population and the anticipation of third class medical reform is making for a lot of scofflaws, while the advocacy of AOPA and other alphabets is fostering an arrogant sense of entitlement among the older and financially flush GA pilot community.

Soarer on Electric

Subscribers Only - This segment is absolutely prime for electric power, which is attractive for several reasons. It eliminates the terrible reliability factor and is independent of density altitude. The mission only requires a 10- to 15-minute initial burn to climb to 3000 feet and begin the soaring day. If battery capacity is one hour, this is easily adequate to serve the mission needs for a backup to get home. If far out on course and low in altitude, the regime is to climb under power for another 10 minutes and then glide for around 30 miles (50:1 glide ratio), and then another 10-minute climb (if necessary) to get home.

Avionics Survey: Prices Tough To Justify

Subscribers Only - The buyer demographics were predictable—46 percent were between the ages of 41 to 55, and 48 percent were over the age of 65. The rest were 21 to 40 years old. When it comes to flying missions (which is a major factor in upgrade decisions), 45 percent fly between 50 to 100 hours per year, and 32 percent fly between 100 and 200 hours per year. Personal/recreational flying counted for 50 percent, while personal and business flying was 47 percent.

Aviation Insurance Market Scan: Shop Aggressively

Subscribers Only - The market for aviation insurance continues to be soft—perhaps very soft. There are simply too many aviation insurance companies offering to sell policies, relative to the number of aircraft owners looking to buy them. And each of these too-many companies is trying to keep the customers it has, and to grow by taking customers away from one of the other companies.

Super Legend HP: Another Titan Hot Rod

Subscribers Only - A decade ago, when the FAA and ASTM were dickering over what became the light sport aircraft rule, limitations on weight and performance—but not power—bubbled to the top of the discussion. The airplanes were supposed to be less expensive, light and simple, but the rule didn’t say they couldn’t have neck-snapping power-to-weight ratios and thus the era of the 180-HP LSA is upon us.

Magneto Upkeep: Not Worth Overhauling

The magnetos we’ve been relying on to fire our aircraft’s spark plugs may be the trailing edge of technology, yet if cared for appropriately, they are remarkably reliable. It’s the cared for part of the equation that matters—because they do require regular maintenance, otherwise some failure modes can mean engine stoppage or even catastrophic engine damage in a matter of seconds. The good news is that keeping your mags healthy usually costs less than two dollars per hour of engine operation per mag.

David Clark DC One-X: Over-Ear, Hybrid ENC

Subscribers Only - Just in time for the fresh flying season, David Clark throws another noise-cancelling headset into the competitive market, the One-X. At first blush, the new model looks a lot like the previously released Pro-X, but it has major design differences that contribute to better performance, while affecting comfort. It also has a higher price. Let’s take a look.

FlyQ EFB 2.2: Faster, More Features

FlyQ has been characterized by a design that maximizes screen space for maps, buttons that are large enough to hit on the first try, easily readable fonts, color-coding for alerts that minimize distractions and a touchscreen set up with turbulence in mind. The recently released Version 2.2 provides, among other new features, a three-times faster mapping engine, new base maps and over 4600 Seattle Avionics-devised airport diagrams for airports that do not currently have FAA diagrams.

Eustachian Exerciser: Stick It Up Your Nose?

Adevice called the Eustachi is being marketed to pilots as an alternative to the Valsalva maneuver they’ve been using for years. You know the drill—pinch your nose and blow to unclog blocked ears during and after a descent. While that can generally do the trick, Minnesota-based Exercore says its Eustachi product is far more effective.

Piper Malibu-Mirage

Subscribers Only - When it first appeared in the mid-1980s, the PA-46 Malibu was a head turner. Aside from its ramp appeal, pilots were intrigued with its high-flying pressurized cabin, 200-knot cruise speed and its impressive range. There was nothing quite like it and Piper soon found a loyal market for its new flagship product, mostly among well-to-do owners who could afford to sink a half-million bucks into a new single and who flew the kind of missions where the Malibu shined.