Letters: 10/01

Safety Priorities
By and large, I agree with your order of setting priorities, as noted in the August issue. I have a fewexceptions.

The first is de-icing gear. Most of my flying is in the Northeast and evenly distributed throughout the calendar year. As an instrument-rated pilot, I fly in IMC often. At least six months of the year, there are airmets calling for icing in clouds.

If one wants to have a reasonable dispatch rate and adhere to the letter of FAR Part 91 regs, deicing gear takes on much higher priority especially when flying over the mountainous areas of New Hampshire, Vermont and New York, where MEAs can be 7000 to 8000 feet. Even with it, I will not launch into an area covered by a Sigmet for icing.

An item which you didnt include is turbocharging. It reduces the effects of density altitude on aircraft performance. It allows a quicker climb to altitude, and to me, altitude is my friend.

A normally aspirated airplane typically produces the best cruise speeds near 8000 feet. In turbocharged airplanes, cruise speed goes up with altitude. This encourages flying at 12,000 to 14,000 feet, altitudes where only the pilot needs to wear oxygen and it gives the benefit of engine-out glide range thats at least 50 percent better.

During summer months, these altitudes usually put you above the scud and haze and allow easier maneuvering around cumulous build ups.

I disagree with your decision to put TCAD last. The previous owner ofthe airplane I bought recently put in a Ryan 9900B system. It works great and is even coupled to display threats on the Argus 5000CE.

I nearly always fly with flight following from ATC. They usually point out threatening traffic before the TCAD picks it up. However, in the mountainous areas of the Northeast, there are many areas where there’s no ATC radar coverage below 5000 feet.

I plan on upgrading the system to the BX version to allow active interrogation in these areas.

-Greg Wroclawski
Via e-mail


Mooneys Prospects
I attended the Mooney briefing at AirVenture 2001 when Michael McConnell, Mooneys VP of strategic planning, announced that Mooney had filed Chapter 11 seeking bankruptcy protection that morning.

Even though Mooney had previously denied the bankruptcy rumors, the filing came to no ones surprise. Apparently the sales volume was not sufficient for break even, given the poor state of the overall economy. Over the years, Mooney has been on a roller-coaster ride in terms of changes in ownership-this is just another round.

One of the topics discussed was Mooneys intention of honoring all warranty claims. Not honoring warranties would not only alienate customers who own airplanes still under warranty but also completely shut down sales of new airplanes.

This is a smart move on behalf of Mooney since most new planes have a number of small-and sometimes not so small-bugs that have to be ironed out during the first two years of ownership. However, good intentions and words must eventually translate into action.

My Ovation is still under warranty but it has a fuel tank leak. Furthermore, due to the leak, the airplane did not pass annual inspection and is now out of annual and unflyable. This might be one of Mooneys first warranty claims after filing Chapter 11.

I have been in contact with the factory and so far they have been very pleasant but have not been able to tell me when they plan to have the fuel leak repaired. Ill give them a couple of weeks to sort things out, but if they cannot commit to a plan, I will have to get the leak fixed on my own and perhaps seek relief through other means.

-Luca F. Bencini-Tibo
Via e-mail


Which MFD?
I own a 1984 Cessna Crusader. Its a keeper, clearly the best airplane Ive ever owned.But like most aircraft of its generation, the avionics are dated.While they work okay, the panels 17 years old and its time to upgrade. Ill do the entire panel: GPS, navcom, audio panel, autopilot and so on. I went to OSH in July to decide what the upgrades should be.Ive settled on an S-TEC autopilot and Bendix/Kings new electronic HSI, which I like better than the Sandel.

But heres where I need your help: Garmins logic for its GNS 530 seems better than the Bendix/King KLN94. But something tells me that the KLN94 coupled to the Bendix/King KMD 850 is probably better, although marginally.

I like the idea of separate navcoms and the new Bendix/King boxes (155A) are very nice. If the GPS fails, at least the navcoms are there for back-up. Do you know if the Garmin 530 will accept a radar input?That might tip the scales.

Bottom line. As a long-time subscriber, Id appreciate a detailed, in-depth comparison of Bendix/King versus Garmin.

-Barry M. Barash
Galesburg, Illinois

Garmin tells us the GNS 530 doesnt accept radar input nor are there any plans to offer this option. So if you need that capability, it wont do. The KMD850 accepts radar only from the Bendix/King RDR 2000 series. Otherwise, the Aviydne FlightMax is far more versatile in the radar indicator replacement field.

We agree that the GNS 530s operating logic is somewhat simpler than the KLN94 but hardly what we would call a night and day difference. The KLN94s strongest appeal is its pin-for-pin replacement for the KLN89B.


CO Detectors
Someone didnt do their homework in dubbing the AIM 696 Best CO Detector in Augusts Gear of the Year review.

Ive owned two of these units, and they worked as advertised. However, both failed after only a few months use in my Cherokee 235. Many other pilots have experienced similar failures.

Apparently the problem is that the electrochemical sensor used in the AIM 696 dries out very quickly when used in aircraft. Most people leave their CO detectors in their airplanes while tied down outside or hangared. Interior temperatures in airplanes kept outside can rise to levels that rapidly desiccate the sensors.

In my case, however, the units failed even though my airplane is hangared.The first unit was replaced by the factory under warranty, but the replacement failed as well.

Finally, AIM simply decided to discontinue manufacturing this particular model. Aeromedix no longer carries the AIM 696 and now offers the Senco Model One Low-Level CO Monitor instead, for about the same price.

Ive been using one of these units and have found it more reliable (so far) than the AIM monitor. An added advantage of the Senco unit is that the batteries are replaceable by the user, unlike the AIM, which had to be thrown away when the batteries failed.

-Michael Sutton
Pleasanton, California

And someone didnt read the article, either. In our original review of the AIM detectors, we reported on the high failure rate. However, Aeromedix tells us the rate was about 2 percent, not most failed as some owners have claimed.

When our Gear of the Year report was prepared, the Senco wasnt yet available, a fact we noted in the report.


Cessna Quality
A few months ago, Aviation Consumer took note of some continuing but slowly diminishing lapses in Cessnas quality control on their newest Skyhawks, Skylanes and Stationairs.

Our aviation insurance agency has owned 19 aircraft in the past 70 years, including one of the first Skyhawks back in 1956 and mostly Beechcraft products since then, such as a Musketeer, several Bonanzas, a Skylane and three Barons.

Most were purchased new from the factories and the most expensive to maintain was the 1980 B58 Baron. Although we alternated annuals with many of our clients who run their own shops, the inspections would regularly wind up in the $7000 to $8000 range.

Just four months ago, we bought a brand-new, non-turbocharged Cessna 206 and its the finest aircraft we have flown to date.

My daughter and I, the only pilots who fly it, now find ourselves vying for weekend usage, even after flying 10 to 20 hours on business during the week.

The Stationair uses only 15 gallons per hour and at altitude, we are cruising at 170 MPH. The soundproofing is akin to flying a pressurized heavy; just beautiful. It has six comfortable seats.

After 125 hours now, at least 50 of it in IMC, I have to congratulate Cessna on a wonderful product and I was very pleased with the Cessna sales exec from Lake-in-the-Hills, Illinois, John Gutt of Future Aviation. Ive recaptured the thrill and fun of flying with this responsive and forgiving machine.

-Chuck Wenk
Highland Park, Illinois


I read with interest James D. Bushs letter to the editor in the August 2001 issue regarding his 2000 Cessna 172SP. Yikes! I have been strongly considering buying a new Cessna but Bush has scared the be-jeepers out of me with all of his problems.

Do you have other e-mail or letters from other Cessna 172R/SP owners who are experiencing the same kinds of problems or did Bush just get a lemon? I really enjoy your publication and value the many reviews provided and I would be interested in hearing more about Cessna 172s.

-Bob Rotruck
Sarasota, Florida

We have received some additional complaints about Cessna quality control and reported on these issues and owner satisfaction in general in the April, 1998 issue of The Aviation Consumer.

To Cessnas credit, we know of no unsatisfied warranty claims related to quality control. Although our view is that Cessna isn’t doing an exceptional job of QC, we wouldnt recommend not buying one for that reason alone.


GPSs Databases
The response to the letter to the editor titled about glideslopes in the August 2001 issue had some incorrect information that might confuse your readers about the UPSAT/Apollo IFR GPS navigators. I am essentially positive that UPSAT/Apollos IFR certification paperwork to the installing shops does in fact not allow a pilot to conduct a GPS IFR approach with an out-of-date datacard installed in the unit.

The rules for this are contained in the FAA Approved Flight Manual Supplement covering the installation of any IFR approach certified GPS system in any U.S. registered aircraft installed by any avionics facility.

AC 20-138, which contains the rules for both VFR and IFR installation of any GPS navigation system, allows GPS navigation with a non-current datacard for IFR enroute and terminal navigation only. It does require a current datacard if the GPS equipment is to be used for and instrument approach.

As the former owner of an avionics shop for 22 years, I prepared the IFR certification paperwork on a least 100 installations of IFR GPS navigation systems on most all brands and models.

I have never seen an installation where the pilot was allowed to conduct a GPS IFR approach with an expired data-card.

-William R. Hemme
Avionics Training, LC

We disagree with that view and checking with UPSAT/Apollo, were told that the companys approved supplement does indeed allow flying approaches with an expired database as long as the pilot manually checks against current paper data.

We argue for common sense here. There’s not much safety-of-flight risk if current data is checked and the enforcement risk is zero, so why not save a few bucks and the aggravation of messing with data revisions?


In our report on the Piper Meridian in the September issue, we gave an incorrect figure for the JetPropDLX Malibu/Mirage conversion useful load. The correct useful load is 1547 pounds.

In the Used Aircraft Guide on the Cessna 185, the tailwheel has 2.5 degrees of steering range, not 24 degrees. And for the record, Louis Armstrongs saying was one of the good ole good ones.

Last, the correct number for contacting Flitz, the metal polish folks, is 800-558-8611.