Letters 07/99

Good Money After Bad
Larry Anglisanos article on avionics had some good information but I have a question: My Viking has a Collins Microline VHF251/VIR351 as the number 1, which has the ILS. Number 2 is an Apollo GX60. More about that later.

He mentioned in his article that the Collins gear should have a high mod status before paying for expensive repairs. How does one determine the mod status of the Collins Microline? Can the 720 comm be converted to 760 channels?

About the Apollo GX60. I find this unit to be not very user friendly. Previously, I used a KLN 88, IFR-approved, with little or no problem. The GX60 is just not as intuitive or logical. Ill eventually get it down, Im sure. But it wont be easy.

-Martin Ditmore
via e-mail

You can check mod status by removing the units and reviewing any stickers or labels listing mods. Check with S-Tec, the company that supports these radios, for additional information. One of the mods covers converting to 760-channel comm from 720-channel status. Contact S-TEC at 940-325-9406.

MAC Beefs
In your article on repairing older avionics, your writer expresses negative comments regarding the KX 170 series transceivers and the MAC 1700 modification. It disturbs me that your writer didnt contact MAC while performing his research.

Yes, Bendix/King no longer offers factory support for the KX 170s. Had your writer asked anyone who owns or knows about a MAC 1700, the first flag would have gone up. Bendix/King never supported MAC modified KX 170s. Thats over 10 years now.

Your writer also states that a $400 repair is not unusual. Repairs of that size are virtually eliminated after the MAC 1700 mod is performed. The switch wafers and counter drum assemblies-mechanical items-generated these kinds of bills.

After a MAC 1700 is installed, the labor portion of service bills decreases to the two or 2.5-hour point unless the service is performed by a shop lacking proper equipment, documentation or experience.

Parts support for the KX 170s is not a problem. FAA AC 20-62D addresses the use of common electronic parts for KX 170s and other products. MAC addresses peculiar electronic repair parts for the KX 170s. Also, MAC has also told its customers that we have plans for the rest of the KX 170 chassis and we do.

-Stanley Barnes
McCoy Avionics Corp.
Columbus, Ohio

Actually, we didnt imply that Bendix/King ever supported MAC-converted KX 170s. What we said was an ailing KX 170 can easily eat up $400 in repairs. And in that context, spending more than three times that much to convert it makes little economic sense.

As for repairs on MAC-equipped KX 170s being in the 2.5 hour range, call us skeptical. We think the MAC was a worthy conversion; it has just been outclassed by newer, reasonably priced avionics.

VisionAire Responds
Im writing about Christian Dopps comments about VisionAire in your March issue. Contrary to the statements he made, the VisionAire Vantage program continues to move forward toward certification and production.

VisionAire has made considerable progress over the past several years and especially during the past several months. Design refinements which address issues discovered during program review late last year are progressing very well. In fact, our engineers have already succeeded in taking several hundred pounds out of the aircrafts projected production empty weight.

We also have more than 40 purchasers of the Vantage representing an order backlog valued at some $250 million and we are indeed revolutionizing the business aviation industry with the worlds first single-engine, all-composite business jet.

I would be happy to provide additional information on the status of our program for inclusion in an upcoming issue of The Aviation Consumer. That would certainly be an appropriate way to correct misconceptions your readers might have about the VisionAire and the Vantage.

-Mark Jones
VisionAire Corp.
Chesterfield, Missouri

JeppView Fan
I am writing to disagree with your opinion on the use of Jeppesens JeppView in the May issue of The Aviation Consumer. While not being perfect, the software is usable and, in my opinion, a good step in the right direction. I should like to address the problems in the order that you wrote about them.

I also am waiting for the ideal interface between pilot and aircraft, where navigation is displayed in conjunction with weather and in particular with approach procedures. We probably are approaching that level of development but we have only interim equipment now. But I look to the future.

By using JeppView, we have cut our Jepps from five books to one. We print only the plates needed. By perusing the revisions, we print only updates. For example, we print Norfolk, Virginia plates because we go there often. I have not printed a Jackson, Mississippi chart yet, nor have I posted one. That has saved me considerable time and effort.

Not knowing what type laptop you are using, I must assume that it has the necessary memory to run Win95 properly. Win95 does have some problems but I have used it successfully for quite awhile.

The remedy is merely to upgrade to Win98. NT 4.0 is not as stable as your friends would have you believe and does not have drivers except for minimal equipment. Version 5.0 may address these problems, but NT is primarily for networks. Unix is an entirely different story and most people would have problems even using it.

My computer is a Compaq Armada 7330T. It has a mere 16 MB of memory and a slow 150 Mhz CPU, 3.5-inch floppy, CD-ROM and an infrared port. Todays laptops are very difficult to see in direct sunlight. My laptop has the active matrix screen. That type screen is the only one even remotely capable of viewing approach plates and then not very well. The solution is merely to print the plate as Jeppesen recommends.

We have had no problems in printing charts. I don’t know why you have had such trials and tribulations in printing a chart. We have a portable Canon BJ80 inkjet that just prints whatever we ask of it. Its battery powered and so far, we have had no problems. It also never needed additional memory to print the most complicated chart. We use the paper sold by Jeppesen as it makes everything much easier to post.

I am a graduate of the U.S. Army Helicopter Flight School and a Vietnam veteran. I am also a CFII and am currently employed as a corporate pilot flying a King Air 200 and a Bell 206L. Our aircraft are based at Philadelphia and most of my flying is done in high density areas along the east coast from Maine to Florida and as far west as Mississippi. I have always wondered why I had to post places I would never fly to. Now I don’t.

The shortcoming is not being able to have a disk at the office and at home. We keep ours on the airplane at all times. We asked Jeppesen about additional disks but they have not been responsive. I believe they think the disk would be passed around and they would lose revenue. We offered to pay a fee for additional disks but have been unsuccessful so far.

So we run an office computer to check for revisions, which are then printed on an HP 690 Inkjet. We like the color because of the contrast. Its nice to see water as blue. The disk is put on the aircraft and kept there along with an inkjet printer and box of Jeppesen paper.

We also have a converter that plugs into the lighter socket to give us 115-volts to run both computer and printer if needed. We pull the appropriate plate, hang it on a clip in the middle of the instrument panel so both pilots can see it and fly the approach. It works equally we’ll with single-pilot IFR operations that we occasionally do.

The Jeppesen CD is not perfect, but by adapting to it and by noting its shortcomings I have found it a real time and effort saver. Life is good.

-Prince A. Denson III
Pennsauken, New Jersey