Letters 03/99

Skywatch and TCAD
Your article on the Ryan TCAD and the Argus map system was excellent and should help anyone trying to make a decision on whether or not to buy a collision avoidance system.

I have flown with both the TCAD 9000 and switched over to Skywatch last year. All your observations are right on. I have also noticed that the Skywatch is the only instrument my passengers ever look at.

I have only one comment comparing the two systems: I believe the TCAD system is a bit more passive than Skywatch. I believe TCAD can onlywork if the other aircraft is illuminated by radar. This is not so with Skywatch. I fly in Mexico and I can tell you that TCAD is almost useless down there and might even give the pilot a false sense of security.

My Skywatch works great in Mexico. Your article should have pointed this out.

F. Singer
Via e-mail

Youre correct. The Skywatch system actively interrogates nearby transponders while the TCAD system is entirely passive.

Bellanca Beefs
Im writing in response to the January review of the Bellanca Viking. As an admitted Bellanca fanatic, I was eagerly anticipating the release of the article but I must admit I was disappointed when I read it.

It seems that when reviewing an aircraft that seemingly changes little, that its okay to just dig through the old file cabinet and come up with the old review from two decades ago, dust it off, brush it up a little and print it.

For example, after describing gear and flap design changes that were made in the late 1960s and the fuel system revamp, the article notes that other than these few changes, the newest Viking is not much different from the oldest. This statement couldnt be farther from the truth.

I felt the article had a very apparent negative slant and contained a great deal of misinformation. References to dry rot and the several fatal Viking wing failures borders on slanderous. After extensive research, the only failures Ive been able to find all have some sort of extenuating circumstance, whether it be jet wake turbulence, a highly modified and lengthened wing or illegal aerobatics.

In short, by the way the article dealt with the wood deterioration issue, it was obvious that the author has never even read Bellanca Service Letter 87A. And, contrary to the impression given, they arent falling out of the sky.

As a matter of fact, of the more than 1350 Vikings built, nearly 81 percent of them are still registered. Im not sure how many other high-performance, complex airplanes could match this. The expensive repair work with regard to the wing is questionable. There are numerous stories of airplanes being grounded, wings removed and sent off to Bellanca specialists only to be returned with no problems found. So, although I don’t feel the Viking requires special skills to maintain, owners should seek out an experienced mechanic whos familiar with Bellancas.

Having owned two Vikings and numerous other airplanes, Ive always been impressed with just how few ADs the Bellanca has against it. When compared to a Beech or Piper, the Vikings short AD list is impressive. I felt there were some major misrepresentations (and mistakes) concerning ADs.

For example, the oft-mentioned main and nose landing gear AD repetitive inspections can be eliminated by fitting beefed up brackets, a one-time upgrade. As a matter of fact, most every repetitive- type AD on the Vikings can be satisfied with one-time repairs.

In fact, AD 76-23-03 R1-the exhaust system inspection-is probably the most important of all the ADs, but was hardly mentioned. AD 91-15-04 is mentioned as though it applied to all, when in fact it only applies to pre-1971 Continental-powered Vikes with two-blade McCauleys.

AD 90-02-23 is also mentioned in reference with a 17-30A, when in fact it only applies to Lycoming-powered airplanes, roughly a quarter of the fleet. It seems very little research was done with regard to the service requirements of a typical Viking.

It seems that Aviation Consumer has done a great injustice to Viking owners everywhere and I don’t feel this article would provide any valuable assistance to a prospective buyer.

Your Used Aircraft Guides are generally we’ll respected for providing the aircraft buying public with sound, objective and factual reviews. But in this instance, I feel you really missed the mark. The Bellanca Viking continues to be the best kept secret in general aviation.

Tom Russ
Via e-mail

CermiNil Skepticism
Heres some feedback on CermiNil cylinders. When we had 216 hours on our Cermicrome cylinders, we were as happy as Ron King is with his CermiNils. (See Letters, January 1999 Aviation Consumer.) We, too, had tight cylinders, as evidenced by low oil consumption and high compression readings. But you know the end of that story.

It wasnt until we hit 360 hours that the problem with Cermicrome manifested itself. Im not saying there’s anything wrong with CermiNil. Im just saying that at 216 hours, its premature to make any conclusions.

Regarding your article on RAM oil filters in the January issue, being an extravagant homebuilder, I wouldnt mind trying the $48 filter if I only had to change it once every 100 hours.

But how do I cut through the pleats to inspect for metal? You made it sound very difficult to do. And our pressure bypass is built in to our spin-on filter adapter.

Im not going to fiddle with that when I change from the old filters to the new, so am I really going to reap any benefit from better filtration if the bypass stays at its lousy low setting?

Mike Palmer
Via e-mail

When we cut the filter for photography, we were able to slice through the pleats without much difficulty using an ordinary oil filter knife. Were sure a hacksaw would work just as well.

As for the bypass, if the filter adapter has a lower bypass setting than the filter, you wont get the benefit of the filters higher bypass setting. Short of changing the adapter bypass setting, we don’t know of any means to remedy this shortcoming.

FliteStars Demise
As you know, Jeppesen has announced it will no longer sell new copies of FliteStar in Mac format and it will stop providing a Mac data subscription service to its Mac customers.

Although Jeppesen has the right to discontinue new software sales, I believe they do not have the right to make my software useless to me. I am sure I echo the sentiments of many other Mac users when I tell you that I feel betrayed by a company I trusted to support the software I have been using for the better part of a decade.

I purchased FliteStar despite the fact that it was one of the most expensive software packages at the time because I believed then, as I believe now, that it was one of the best flight planners available.

I also liked the fact that it was available in Mac format. Over the years, Mentor did a commendable job of supporting the software with feature upgrades and periodic database updates. Those of us who subscribed to FliteStar have spent thousands of subscription dollars to keep our flight data current. I worried when Jeppesen purchased Mentor. It seems my concerns were we’ll founded. In my view, Jeppesens purchase of Mentor obligated them to us, as our database needs obligated us to them.

I have spoken to Jeppesen regarding this problem. They have offered to supply me with a Windows version of FliteStar at no additional cost. However, I don’t have a PC-based machine. I have a Mac.

Jeppesen suggested running the Windows version of FliteStar on the Mac, using emulation software such as Softwindows. But these programs are cumbersome and would make FliteStar as slow as the proverbial molasses on a January morning.

In sum, I believe Jeppesen acted in an unethical, unsupportable and graceless manner when it dropped its Mac users. It can redeem itself by supporting Mac data subscribers into the foreseeable future.

Name withheld by request

A Jeppesen spokesman told us that Mac users represent 3 percent of its FliteStar customers and because of programming and other technical issues, the company felt it was no longer economical to support the Mac version. However, it will continue to do so through the end of 1999.

IFR Cheating
I found your review of IFR hoods to be interesting. I have worn contact lenses for near sightedness for decades and in recent years I have worn half-height reading glasses for near vision.

I did my original IFR training during the 1960s with a hood that seemed to work fine. Then I gave up flying for about 25 years and took it up again in 1995.

I got current on instruments using Foggles. I found a congenial IFR practice partner who uses 1Foggles with no apparent problems.

However, I began to notice that my actual IFR flying was consistently rougher than my practice, particularly with regard to keeping the wings level. I noticed that I was not including the attitude indicator often enough in my scan and began consciously working on that. But that did not explain my better performance in practice.

I eventually concluded that I was unconsciously cheating by way of my peripheral vision. My practice partner wears fairly thick glasses, so his peripheral vision may not be much help when he is using his Foggles.

I tried both the Hoodlamb and the Francis Hood. I found that the peripheral vision with the Hoodlamb was still a problem. The Francis Hood seems to work we’ll for me. I do have to turn my head a lot to see the radios, which are further right in my Bonanza than in some airplanes.

My actual IFR flying has improved a lot, so I think its worth it. The Francis Hood does not interfere with my reading glasses. I do need to put it on before my headset, usually before takeoff. Once its on, moving it up to my forehead when not in use works fine.

Henry Faulkner
via e-mail

In our Used Aircraft Guide on the Meyers 200, we noted that Micco Aircraft is recertifying the old Meyers 145 as a new two-placer, the SP20.

Although we said not much progress had been made, in fact, Micco reports that certification is proceeding apace and is expected to be completed in April.

For more information, contact Micco at 800-647-9535 or see the firms Web site http://www.miccoair.com/.