Letters 12/00

Personal Jet Feedback
I find your Aviation Consumer always interesting and informative. I must share with you an observation concerning your recent article on the Eclipse and Safire projects.

Color me skeptical, but if you use the estimated investment figures from your article of $300 million and the 1000 aircraft delivery schedule over four to six years in the interview with Vern Raburn (thats four airplanes per week, average, over five years), the cost per aircraft of the interest (or return on capital)is 12 percent.

Thats pretty conservative, given the risk profile of the investment. This equates to a cost of $180,000 per aircraft. Thats nearly a quarter of the estimated retail price for the cost of money alone.

We havent touched the cost of materials, labor, equipment maintenance, depreciation or profit per airplane. While I hope that these companies will be successful, Id sooner do an outside loop in my Lancair IV (not likely) than bet money that either of these aircraft will meet these price projections, if they make it into production.

As you imply inyour sidebar, Eclipses deposit program seems to be creative corporate financing. Some performance and delivery guarantee.

Unless Ive misread it, if they dont meet the price, timeline or specs, you get your money back. Big deal.

The company has had the use of it interest-free for over two years. Id love to borrow funds on that basis for my business.

-Mark A. Rosenthal
Via e-mail

I was distressed to see Aviation Consumer devote almost one-fourth of its October, 2000 issue to what, in the computer world, would be called vaporware, company hype about non-existent product.

Yougave over seven pages to discussion of the Safire and Eclipse, neitherof whichis yet off the drawing board.

In the advertising wrapper around the October issue you claim togive no-nonsense recommendations. After seven pages of company propaganda whats your no-nonsense recommendation?Wait and see?

Surely, there is more information you could publish about what is available than what isnt.

-Brian Reid
Via e-mail

If the industry buzz is accurate-and we think it is-small personal jets of the Safire and Eclipse ilk promise to have a fundamental impact on the world of general aviation. We count among our readers potential customers for these airplanes, many of whom are asking if these things are real.

More than a handful are considering early purchase positions, thus we think a critical look at these airplane projects is entirely appropriate coverage for Aviation Consumer.

RAM Engines
I just read the article on overhaul shops and while I know RAM is a modification shop not purely an overhaul shop, I wanted to let you know that I have been generally pleased with their support.

I have had my share of cylinder problems on my Cessna 414A since RAM remanufactured the engines. Additionally, Ihad a cracked case with one of the RAM engines,which Wayne Hammermeister, who is in charge ofRAMs customer service, replaced on a pro-rated basis.(It still cost me about $5000.)

At annual, I had a cracked cylinder after it was replaced 477 hours earlier when the case was replaced. A callto Wayne at RAM got a new cylinder at no charge. I was impressed with Waynes unhesitating willingness to replace this cylinder.

As have many Continental engine owners, I have been frustrated by cylinder replacements. I think Wayne and his group do all they can to minimize the pain.

I had three cylinders that werent crackedbut that fell short on compression. I had to replace them at my own expense. Wayne sold them to me at the lowest possible price.

-Dale C. Eisenman
Hilton Head Island
South Carolina

Seated and Pleased
After reading about Oregon Aeros seat refit in the July issue of Aviation Consumer, I called and scheduled a redo of the pilot seat of my Piper Cherokee 180. The seat was sent in early August and a week later I was called to find out how the seat should be shipped back.

To my surprise, the caller was the woman who had done the work, which gave me a chance to talk with her about what she had done.Excellent customer service.

A week later, the seat was back in my airplane. What a difference. Its stiff at first. But after a minute, the conformal foam has taken the shape of my body.

The seat back provides good lumbar support and better comfort further up the back than the old seat. I fidget less and enjoy the flight more. Im finally as comfortable in my airplane as I am in my car. It was worth the price.

-Charles MacInnis
Jackson, Michigan

CO Detectors
Thearticle on carbon monoxide detectors in the October, 2000 issue interested me as both a pilot and a consultant in occupational/environmental health. It was well researched and written, buta couple of related areas could use a little expansion and clarification.

Early in the article it describes biomimetric (which probably should have been biomimetic) detectors which absorb and recover from CO at about the same rate as humans.

That rate is pretty slow and relatively linear up to equilibrium, which takes roughly three hours to achieve at 1000 PPM with a resulting carboxyhemoglobin concentration of about 60 percent, increasing to roughly 16 hours at 25 PPM with a carboxyhemoglobin concentration of about 4 percent.

Implicit from the biomimetic reference, and correct, is that CO poisoning is a slow process. Later in the article, however,the slowness of some detectors in responding, particularly at low CO concentrations, is criticized. While faster is arguably better if one understands what the data mean (and dont mean), slow response at low concentrations has the virtue of preventing false alarms of no physiological significance.

Dr. Brent Blues contention that 10 PPM CO is the hazard threshold is questionable and probably self-serving given his position with Aeromedix.com.

After four hours of exposure, which is realistically about as long a flight as most of us make, 10 PPM CO will elevate carboxyhemoglobin less than 1 percent.

At low altitudes, this is totally insignificant. It is correct that the chemical hypoxiafrom CO will be added tothe hypobaric hypoxia resulting from altitude, but the effect is so small as to essentially disappearat altitudes where hypobaric hypoxia is potentially significant.

At 10,000 feet, the arterial blood is about 90 percent saturated with oxygen. Decreasing that to 89 percent as a result of four hours at 10 PPM CO will make no measurable difference in performance; acting about the same as climbing to 10,500 feet.

Anyone to whom those levels of hypoxia arehazardous, or to whom the increment has any meaning, is unlikely to be able to obtain a medical.

Please dont take the above as criticism. You put out a superlative publication. My comments pertain to a rather esoteric effect which is often misunderstood.

From work as a university lecturer to medical students and practicing physicians as well as being an expert witness, my experience is that gross misunderstanding, even in the medical community, isthe norm.

The article was much better than that. As an aside, I dont know much about the Quest SafeTest 90, but I own about $15,000 worth of other Quest equipment and it is all bulletproof.

-Laurence R. Durio
Via e-mail

Youre correct. Its biomimetic, not biomimetric.

We contacted Brent Blue who says that his position is that 10 PPM isnt necessarily hazardous but that 30 to 35 PPM is potentially hazardous in an unpressurized aircraft.

Ten PPM, however, is worth troubleshooting and correcting because it may be an early warning of potentially hazardous levels of CO from exhaust leaks. Blue argues that an indication of 35 PPM is cause to land as soon as possible.

Oil Spouts
I read the article regarding oil spouts in your August issue. I dont believe the Spillbuster 12-in-1 from ProMax Inc. was included.

I have used it with my Cessna 421C and bought it at Home Depot here in Nashville. It works great.

ProMax is at 20 SW 5th Court, Pompano Beach, FL 33068.

-Bob Fisher
Nashville, Tennessee

Editors note: We were unable to track down a phone number or Web site for this company, although the product appears to be available nationally from Home Depot outlets.