March 2018

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Subscribers Only - There’s nothing quite like fetching your bird from the shop after a high-quality engine overhaul. Done right, it should perform like it did when the aircraft came off the factory floor. In the world of aircraft ownership, that’s a beautiful thing. But done wrong, you could be in for the time-consuming hassles of dealing with warranty work—or worse should the engine fail, despite it running great before handing it over to an overhaul shop. After all, engine overhauls are supposed to increase your confidence, not

Does FBO Price Gouging Need FAA Intervention?

Call them ramp fees, facility charges or handling fees. When you pull up to many FBOs there’s a good chance you’ll be billed a flat-rate charge just for taking space on the ramp. In general, the larger the aircraft, the more you’ll pay. Most facilities that collect facility fees will waive them if you oblige by buying a specific amount of fuel, which of course always works out to be more than the fee. No matter what, my mentality is that I never expect anything for free and that’s especially true when aviating.

Letters From Readers: March 2018

I read the Cessna 414 report in the February 2018 Aviation Consumer Used Aircraft Guide section with interest. My aircraft partner and I have owned three airplanes, including our current 1977 Cessna 414, through our nonprofit S Corporation. It is set up as a flying club, allowing for as many as five members, although we’ve never had more than three. There are three primary elements that affect our shared ownership arrangement.

Engine Shop Survey: High Satisfaction

There’s nothing quite like fetching your bird from the shop after a high-quality engine overhaul. Done right, it should perform like it did when the aircraft came off the factory floor. In the world of aircraft ownership, that’s a beautiful thing. But done wrong, you could be in for the time-consuming hassles of dealing with warranty work—or worse should the engine fail, despite it running great before handing it over to an overhaul shop. After all, engine overhauls are supposed to increase your confidence, not kill it or you in the process.

Used SE Turboprops: Engines Drive Value

Subscribers Only - The engine is the size of a large picnic basket, easily puts out more power than the biggest horizontally opposed piston pounder, has a TBO nearly twice as long, is more reliable and weighs less—so what’s not to like about turboprop engines?

Avionics Cooling Fans: Worth The Cost

If you’ve ever scrutinized an invoice or a proposal for an avionics upgrade, you might have spotted a line item that mentions an avionics cooling fan. While it’s an option that could add $500 to as much as $1000 to the project, it’s a sign that the shop is thinking about long-term reliability. We’ve seen too many high-dollar avionics installs completed without protecting the avionics from heat damage, which is easily handled with an avionics cooling fan.

Waco on Floats: Don’t Call It Practical

The phrase “irresistible urge” is as good as any to describe why some airplanes get fitted with floats. A Super Cub and a 185, sure. But a DC-3 and a Cherokee 140? And now a giant Waco biplane in the form of the company’s just-introduced YMF-5F floatplane, with the “F” signifying floats.

Used IFR GPS Systems: Garmin GNS Still Tops

Subscribers Only - We’ve been around enough avionics installations to know that most every project can snowball once the aircraft hits the hangar floor. That’s especially true as more owners finally commit to ADS-B installations. If the aircraft hasn’t seen an avionics installation in ages, low-budget buyers might noodle the idea of buying used GPS navigators. But what may seem like a smoking-good deal on used equipment websites could be a setup for a serious case of buyer’s remorse.

Reliefband 2.0: Same Tech, Restyled

When we evaluated motion-sickness aids in the July 2017 issue of Aviation Consumer, we favored the Reliefband 1.5 wearable therapeutic neuromodulation device over other remedies. Most important is the device is easy to use and doesn’t cause side effects, other than potentially minor skin irritation around the area of the electrode. But we thought the Reliefband, which is worn like a wristwatch, had a dated design and a clinical look and feel.

Kannad Ameri-Fit ELT: Ameri-King Drop In

If you own one of the roughly 14,500 Ameri-King ELTs hit by an FAA AD (AD 2017-16-01) because the now-defunct company falsified that the system was FAA approved, ELT manufacturer McMurdo now has a relatively easy replacement option with its Kannad Ameri-Fit system.

Piper Saratoga:

Subscribers Only - Shop the six-seat, retractable piston-single market and you’ll find three basic choices: Beech’s Model 36 Bonanza, Cessna’s Model 210 Centurion and Piper’s PA-32R series, which is the Lance and Saratoga. At first blush, the Bonanza arguably handles better than the other two while perhaps squeezing out a knot or two over the Centurion. The 210, on the other hand, generally has better short-field performance than the Bonanza and offers an improved hand-flown IFR platform.