Letters 11/00

CO Detectors
Aeromedix would like to make the following comments in reference to your excellent article about carbon monoxide detectors. Over the two-year period during which Aeromedix.com has sold thousands of AIM CO detectors for in-aircraft use, the failure rate has been approximately 1.5 percent.

The AIM detectors fail more often than other models not because they are of lower quality, but because they are of higher quality. The AIM detectors are the only units that test their own electrochemical CO sensor daily, and provide an alert if the sensor has drifted out of calibration.

All CO detectors with electrochemical sensors (the only sensor technology we believe suitable for in-aircraft use) are subject to calibration drift, but the other electrochemical detectors reviewed by Aviation Consumer don’t incorporate a sensor self-test and do not alert the user when the sensor is no longer accurate.

In our experience, the vast majority of sensor failures are due to one of two causes: Prolonged exposure to high heat because the detector was kept in an unhangared aircraft and/or contamination of the sensor (e.g., exposure to volatile solvents and other chemicals used during maintenance or holding the unit in close proximity to a vehicle exhaust pipe.)

Indeed, we suspect that the early failure of the AIM 696 tested by Aviation Consumer was due to sensor contamination. Other electrochemical sensors would have also drifted out of calibration under these conditions, but the user would have had no way of knowing that.

When a customer calls or e-mails Aeromedix.com to report a premature error alert of an AIM unit purchased from us, we ship out a new replacement the same business day. We do not even ask that the defective unit be returned, only that the serial number be furnished so that we can verify that the unit was indeed one purchased from Aeromedix.com. U.S. customers are generally inconvenienced for no more than the two or three days it takes for the replacement to reach them.

We provide immediate customer service and information for this and our other products where the other manufacturers do not. We are specifically aviation oriented and provide extensive information related to aircraft and aircraft operations.

In addition, we are the only distributor who has experience with the medical aspects of CO exposure and we provide information by e-mail and telephone to our customers.

Brent Blue
[email protected]

Sportys: Yes, We Test
I just finished reading Oil Gadgets by Ward Miller in the August 2000 issue and would like to say thanks for including items Sportys sells in the article.

However, Mr. Miller seemed less than pleased with the items and wondered if we at Sportys test these products before releasing them to the market. This concern seemed legitimate, so I did some checking . Our affiliate fixed base operator, Eastern Cincinnati Aviation, uses both the oil valve and oil filler spout on a daily basis.

They service the training school fleet of 13 airplanes and other customers aircraft. The training fleet consists of four Cessna 152s, four 172s, two Piper Cadets and a Cessna 182, along with a Beechcraft Bonanza and a Piper Aztec.

To operate the airport, they also use two aviation fuel trucks, three tractors, two dump trucks, a grader and a snow removal truck. All of these vehicles are serviced/maintained by people using among other tools; you guessed it, the oil valve and oil spout.

So we feel we can respond to Mr. Miller on a positive note that yes, we at Sportys do try products we sell before releasing to the market, and we continue testing them daily.

Al Gavin
Sportys Pilot Shop
Batavia, Ohio

While on the subject, Sportys CEO Hal Shevers sent us a note regarding our comment about replacement cycles for the Dead Stop CO indicator we reviewed in the October issue. We noted that the product itself carries a label recommending 60-day replacement while a sheet shipped with the detectors calls for 30 days.

Were just trying to be honest, wrote Shevers. We try never to oversell a product. He enclosed a copy of an FAA document recommending 30-day replacement cycles for spot-type CO detectors.

No Mobil Fan…
The last time Mobil claimed to have a lubricant so slick you could slide uphill, I went for it. All the specs seemed to be in line with the latest lubrication technology. But apparently nobody told them it had to work with leaded fuel. However, the real kicker came after I topped my engine, which had mysteriously come up short on compression. Mobil announced that its oil-turned-sludge was to blame, but in order to pay me the $8000 for that unexpected little hiccup, I had to tear my engine down again and check what had been examined a month before.

No matter how many times I told them and their intermediaries that it had already been done, they would not compensate me unless I took the aircraft out of service for another two or three weeks. I finally passed. It will be a cold July day in Death Valley before I use the latest and greatest anything made by Mobil again.

In regards to your funnel story, the most useful oil funnel I have found is one created by cutting the bottom half or third off the plastic oil container. On the IO-520 in my Cessna 210, the spout-be sure to remove the plastic sealer ring if there is one-fits snugly in the filler neck through the access door. It will support a container of oil as it drains into your engine, so you can go do something else. It also seals out dust and rain while the oil is pouring in. A light-colored container (one of the old white Aeroshell ones, for example) is best because it allows you to see if any dust has stuck inside the funnel.

Art Friedman
Santa Monica, California

…and Exxon Follows Up
(Note: This letter is a follow-up to a complaint about Exxon Elite which appeared in our October issue.)

We investigated Dr. Hagbergs complaint with the help and significant assistance of his mechanic, Russell Hyde of Sundance Aviation.

Hyde was able to replicate the aircraft owners experience of fluctuating prop governor RPM using another competitive multi-grade oil in the problem engine, thereby eliminating Exxon Elite as the culprit. Since multi-grade kinematic viscosity is THE same or slightly higher at operating temperatures as the monograde oil, kinematic viscosity is not the issue here.

Instead, the problem seems to relate to a mechanical phenomenon, possibly associated with higher than normal clearances between parts in the propeller control system where the oil is subjected to high shear conditions.

With 1875 hours on the governor, the higher clearances are probably the result of wear. Under normal conditions, multigrade oils would perform we’ll in this application as evidenced by the normal operation of the other engine and propeller control system.

In point of fact, a major manufacturer of propellers and governors with whom we discussed this problem told us that they would recommend trying a new governor or, failing that, continue using the monograde oil until the owner is ready to replace the governor.

Disturbing to me is the perception on the part of the consumer that we did not fully appreciate the importance of the initial complaint. I am personally embarrassed that one of our customers was mistreated by our technical staff. Heres what weve done to correct this problem.

We identified the Customer Service Representative who handled the initial complaint. This person had been removed from the Exxon Elite Hotline and the remainder of the technical staff coached on proper customer relations.

I have personally apologized to Mr. Hyde and Dr. Hagberg regarding the treatment they received. And I would like to assure the industry that we will strive to provide every Exxon customer or prospective customer with the respect and attention that they deserve.

Steve Sunseri
Manager General Aviation
ExxonMobil Lubricants