May 2015

May 2015 Full Issue PDF

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Insuring Your Rental Blowtorch

As we researched this article, we heard about a turboprop owner who was renting a single-pilot jet. When asked how he was insuring the jet, he said that he paid a lot of money for insurance on his turboprop and it had better cover him in the jet. He then got concerned and called his broker. Fortunately, his particular policy covered him when he was flying other airplanes—but that’s not always the case. If you’re going to rent a jet, making sure that appropriate insurance coverage is in place is a huge part of the deal.

190/195 Mishaps: Groundloops

Subscribers Only - With their large, comfortable cabins, the Cessna 190/195 series airplanes are delightful cross-country machines—and amazingly safe in that role. Our survey of the 100 most recent 190/195 accidents revealed an almost astonishingly low number of accidents one would expect to see in airplanes used for traveling such as engine failures, VFR into IMC crashes and fuel-related events. They totaled only 15 percent of the accidents—for flat-engine airplanes, we’d expect to see at least that many accidents from engine stoppages alone. We only saw seven engine stoppages in the 190 and 195.

Vinyl Versus Paint: Which is Better?

Subscribers Only - That’s what we asked leading paint shops and Craig Barnett at Scheme Designers, a popular aircraft graphics designer that works with both aircraft paint and vinyl designs.

Vinyl Prep

Subscribers Only - Clockwise from upper left: Rendering drawings of the vinyl design are key to planning the project, but the prep work is equally as important—and tedious.

FAA Field Approval For A Light Bulb?

Subscribers Only - Are you flippin’ kidding me? That’s the family-safe version of my response when a shop wouldn’t install a Whelen PAR36 Parmetheus drop-in LED in a reader’s airplane without first lobbying FAA field approval. The aircraft, a first-gen Cirrus SR22, has a traditional incandescent landing/taxi lamp mounted in the nose bowl. Replacing it with the Whelen drop-in is a matter of accessing the lamp, unscrewing it from the mount, pulling off the connector and installing the new LED lamp in reverse order. Even a caveman could do that.

Preserving The Plexi

The Plexiglas windshields in our general aviation airplanes are pretty remarkable—made of acrylic, they are lightweight with little distortion, and it should be at least 30 years before you need a new windshield (inset), if treated right. That’s according to John Zofko, Jr., founder of Great Lakes Aero Products, one of the major glass manufacturers. Even on a tie-down, you can figure on 10-15 years, per Scott Utz, head of maintenance at Arapahoe Aero on Denver’s Centennial Airport.

First Word: May 2015

That was proven at this year’s National Training Aircraft Symposium held at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach, Florida. The annual event gathered alphabet group leaders, aircraft and avionics manufacturers, and educators from many major aviation colleges and universities. The major focus at this year’s NTAS event was addressing the challenges of equipping the training fleet for the 2020 ADS-B mandate. But it was also an opportunity for a sales pitch.

Letters: May 2015

I read Stephen Phoenix’s letter in the April 2015 issue of Aviation Consumer, where he effectively states that the Piper J-3 Cub’s fuel tank location is not an issue, and that your article is irresponsible because you said it is unsafe. His assertion is wholly unfounded. I was flying my fully restored and meticulously maintained 1937 J-3 Cub at Danbury Airport in Connecticut. While departing a short runway, the engine sputtered. I started a right turn to a long runway and as the nose lowered, the engine sprang back to life. Wishing not to make a forced landing, I made the mistake of turning back to the original heading. The engine quit. Facing a forest and a swamp, I committed the forbidden sin and did a 180-degree turn.

HID vs. LED: Brightness Costs Bucks

Subscribers Only - Anyone perusing the lighting aisle at the local Home Depot will have noticed that the lowly incandescent bulb is an endangered species, having been displaced by LEDs and CFLs. The burgeoning LED market has spilled over into aviation in the form of landing, taxi and recognition lights. (Thankfully, we’ve been spared the CFLs.) Add to this the availability of another light technology, HIDs, and owners have more choice than ever in upgrading over the ancient GE tractor bulb that’s illuminated runways for decades. Never mind that this new technology costs 10 to 100 times more than an off-the-shelf GE 4509, how does it perform? We’ll get to that in this article, but first note that the lighting market has expanded since we last examined the topic six years ago. There are more choices in HID and LED and more approved systems. In some cases, prices appear to have decreased, a welcome exception to everything else in aviation.

Windshield Care: Clean and Repel Rain

I never made a landing in rain until after I had my private pilot ticket—I’d never even thought about what it would be like flying final at 60 knots while peering through a fuzzy windshield, trying to sort out lining up with the runway and the flare. My first landing in rain (light) wasn’t fun. Not having a windshield wiper didn’t make sense. As I gained experience, I sort of figured out how to deal with rain on the windshield when landing, but the results often weren’t pretty.

Adventure Pilot 740 GPS: Tablet-Based Navigator

Subscribers Only - Before full-size tablet computers made their way to the cockpit, the Adventure Pilot iFly 700 GPS navigator earned respect as a capable big-screen chart reader. As a bonus, the iFly tablet could serve double-duty as a portable GPS. But there was one problem: Garmin. It dominated the market by rolling out model after model of portable navigators, including the aera series and eventually, the GPS696, which is still in the lineup today.

More ADS-B Solutions: Stratus, Sandia, FreeFlight

Subscribers Only - Just when we thought we could lay off the ADS-B coverage for a month, along comes no fewer than three new ADS-B product announcements—two in the same day. These product introductions come as the ink still dries on last month’s issue of Aviation Consumer, which contains an ADS-B buyer’s guide. Stay tuned. We’ll update the product guide in our June 2015 issue. Clearly, the ADS-B market is busting at the seams, and the latest product announcements from Appareo, Sandia and FreeFlight offer overwhelmed buyers even more choices. Here’s a look at each one.

Champion’s New Plugs: Quietly Redesigned

Over the last several years, there have been incidents of pre-ignition in large displacement Continental engines. In many cases, it was suspected that cracked or broken ceramic insulators on Champion Aerospace fine wire spark plugs were to blame. The issue led to Cirrus issuing a service bulletin for spark plug applications on its turbocharged models, as did Tornado Alley Turbo, for its aftermarket turbo-normalizing mod.

Vinyl Graphics Projects: Better For Composites

Subscribers Only - When proposals for a custom paint job on my second-generation Cirrus came in as high as $25,000—with up to 10 weeks of down time—I considered stepping up to a newer model. But my investment in numerous upgrades and my comfort with the aircraft in a variety of missions and weather convinced me to keep my ham and stop looking for rye bread. Still, logic dictated that it was time to personalize and customize the paint work. Why? Because it didn’t need it. N233WZ has always been pampered inside and out and is stored in a heated hangar. However, it was born in a time where Cirrus’ ho-hum graphics make it look like every other G2 on the ramp. I looked at aftermarket graphics, and while I wanted an aggressive design with custom colors, I never found what I was conceptualizing. That is until I saw some cutting-edge graphics and paint work on the Generation 5 Cirrus models. This clearly seemed like a radical change in appearances from the earlier models. Once I got pointed in the right direction, I decided to pull the trigger on an owner-assisted vinyl graphics project. Here is a firsthand account.

Renting a Jet: Options Increasing

No airplane is perfect for 100 percent of its owner’s missions. It’s long been common for, say, a pilot who owns a Cessna 150 to rent an Archer when more capability is needed. We’ve also seen owners trade up into the class of airplane they’ve been renting—the rental process having allowed them to get to know the more capable airplane and the experience they’d gained helped in buying insurance.

Aspen AoA Upgrade: Self-Contained, Simple

Subscribers Only - The way we see it, all PFD (primary flight display) systems should include angle-of-attack sensing and display as a standard function. After all, nearly all of the data that’s required for computing a stalled condition can be acquired from the PFD’s air data computer and AHRS sensor. This is partly how Aspen Avionics is adding angle-of-attack functionality to its Evolution PFD and MFD displays. By throwing aircraft-specific programmable software in the mix, the Evolution AoA system is able to compute stall condition for wing flap configurations without referencing an external flap position sensor. The result is a simple AoA upgrade that doesn’t require the costly installation of additional sensors, other than what is already included in an Aspen PFD/MFD setup.

Cessna 195 Businessliner

Subscribers Only - There are few personal airplanes that can deliver both mission utility and attention-getting nostalgia. The venerable Cessna 195 Businessliner is one of them. Cessna named it the Businessliner because it was, well, a business aircraft. But it was not the first business aircraft by a long shot. It is probably the most practical of classics because it is a good traveling airplane that will not cripple you to keep it maintained. It is all-metal and has good parts availability, unlike such machines as the Beech Staggerwing, Spartan Executive and Stinson Reliant. It is the link between the poorly harmonized, high adverse yaw radial-engine classics of the 1930s with the feet-on-the floor machines of today, carrying on only the adverse yaw. Many vintage aircraft are indeed works of art, but the 195 is actually a practical classic. One owner refers to his 195 as “a Cessna 206 that gets preferred parking at the fly-in breakfasts.” A direct descendant of the 1934 C-34 Airmaster, the C-190 series represents a lot of Cessna heritage—it was the first all-metal Cessna, and the last Cessna to be built with a radial engine. When you arrive on the ramp in a 195, heads turn. Best of all, 195s are relatively affordable to buy and support. For the pilot who is on the ball, they can be relatively easy to fly.