Letters: 12/03

We just put a WSI Inflight displayed on a MX-20 in our Malibu. It is a fantastic piece of gear. It completely eliminates the need for a Stormscope-we spent seven grand on a WX-500, too-and it is really better than onboard radar due to the panning feature, which lets you look ahead (or around) as far as you want.

The articles that talk about the need forboth are just wrong and I suspect are driven by the same thought process that sold us on putting in the WX-500 and were originated by those who want to sell more avionics gear. The signal is almost never more than two minutes old and I have never seen it older than four minutes. The 1 nm resolution is sufficient but I would not try to use this or any datalink as a primary radar on a display with 5 nm resolution, such as Garmins.

-Bud King
Via e-mail

Were not sure these systems have demonstrated themselves to be reliable enough to completely substitute for onboard storm gear of some kind. Frankly, we would like to see a year of operational experience before making that leap. On the other hand, see our report in used storm detection gear elsewhere in this issue.


Bad Boys
This note is in reference to your September 2003 article, Not Just No, Hell No! I was concerned about your advocacy of a wink and a nod when faced with company policy against personal aircraft flown on business.

I worked for a company with a no fly policy-a very large aircraft-related business. First, if I had flown and been caught, Id be looking for work.

Second, if involved in any kind of accident involving injury or death, I would not have been covered by my companys insurance-life and health-as well as, very likely, workmans compensation. Thats a big risk you take if you make that choice. I believe you did a disservice to your readers by not discussing this.

Now, I have a question. I own a 1962 Cessna 182E with a Continental O-470 engine. The handbook calls for fuel in the 87-octane range. I use 100LL today. The question is-can I burn 92/95 octane auto fuel? It seems that I might-perhaps with an additive.

-Bruce Bennett
Via e-mail

In our view, whether to fly under the wink-and-nod philosophy is one of those personal life decisions of the sort every owner/pilot will have to decide for himself.

As for the autogas question, a couple of STCs exist to allow mogas use in this engine. Try www.EAA.org/education/fuel/index.html for a listing and Petersen Aviation at autofuelstc.com/ and follow the links.


Rotax Rejoinder
Regarding Harv Havirs letter on the costs of an oil change on the Rotax 912 engine and AD 2002-21-16 in your September letters section: A normal oil change on the Rotax 912/914 is like any other piston aircraft engine.

Warm up the engine, drain and refill the oil tank, change the filter and perform a run-up to check for leaks. This takes approximately one hour and does not require venting of the oil system.

As far as the oil change, the only time you must comply with the venting procedure is when you have ether disassembled any part of the oil system, such as removing the oil cooler or replacing the oil lines, or committed an error in the procedures.

These errors are the target of the AD and address the practices of a few well-meaning but untrained maintenance personnel who felt it beneficial to blow out oil coolers and spin the prop to drain every last drop of dirty oil out of the engine at every oil change. This type of misunderstanding caused the engine failures and resulting AD.

We have discussed with the FAA having the AD wording changed to clarify the oil change reference but they are unable to do so because of time and staffing constraints.

Anyone with questions about the wording and intent of the SB and AD are encouraged to contact us. In response to Harvs concerns about water leaks, Rotax has introduced new spring clamps for the hoses that are working very well in the field.

Also, certain brands of oil do cost $12 a quart but the engine should not burn more than 0.063 quarts per hour and it only requires 3 quarts every change. Other recommended brands such as Formula Shell semi-synthetic cost about $2.60 per quart.

As far as operation costs, many reputable, well-run flying schools are successfully operating an approved on-condition program to 2400 hours and in some cases over 3000 hours.

As well as reducing their cost per hour by not overhauling, they are taking advantage of the Rotaxs preference for mogas and lower fuel consumption and saving over $35,000 dollars in fuel costs compared to operating the typical Cessna 172.

The key to this success is a good understanding of the engine for both the operator and the maintenance staff. Rotech Research offers Bombardier-Rotax GmbH approved maintenance training for the 912 and 914 series engines. See our website at www.rotech.ca for more information.

-Rob Seaton
Rotech Research Canada, Ltd.


In our article about vacuum pumps in the November issue of Aviation Consumer, we incorrectly reported that Rapco sells overhaul kits for pumps. In fact, they sell only overhauled and new pumps, not kits.