Letters: August 1998

AOPA Replies on Eagle Insurance
Your June Keep Me Covered article on American Eagle Insurance left out a key detail that negates its conclusion. And it doesnt fully acknowledge AOPAs aggressive efforts to protect both our insureds and all American Eagle policyholders, including customers of independent brokers nationwide.

Author Jon Doolittle, owner of insurance broker Sutton James, failed to say that in states where Assumption of Loss Endorsements (ALEs) are not permitted, insureds enjoyedequivalent protection under a contract between Eagle and Zurich Re-insurance Corporation (ZRC).

Rather than hang on and hope for the best, AOPA worked proactively for insureds best interests. ARC, Virginia Surety and other A-rated protection was in place for all.

It is not almost certain that an AOPA insured will be without coverage for old claims. All open AOPA Program claims not assumed by Great American were sent to ZRC. We know of no AOPA Program insured who lost coverage, including the AOPA member cited (whose claim is being handled by ZRC).

Unreported claims under old, expired policies not assumed by Great American or an ALE are increasingly unlikely. The possibility is more remote each day. Many would have been in trouble without AOPAs strong intervention. We stood up for policyholders, as we stand up for members. Thats how we do business and why our entry into aircraft insurance helped all aircraft owners, wherever they obtain coverage.

Drew Steketee
AOPA Senior Vice President

Stormscope Support
Im an Aviation Consumer subscriber and enthusiast, with a BFGoodrich WX-900 Series II Stormscope problem in an airplane plane I bought last year.

The processor/display unit was malfunctioning. The avionics shop I went to sent it to BFG. Unfortunately, part of the inked-on serial number on the unit had rubbed off on adjacent tubing. The avionics shop technician saw where it rubbed and says that this is not a case of someone removing a number from a stolen unit.

BFGoodrich says it will not repair the unit without the serial number. Of course, there’s no record of the serial number in the logs or on the shop invoice. Thats also true of other avionics with readable numbers on the units which were installed by the same shop.

The Stormscope was installed in November of 1993, two owners ago. I called the shop which did the installation and spoke to the person who signed the logbook. But they only keep their records the required two years. Yes, in getting the pre-purchase inspection, I should have looked to make sure I had all the serial numbers, not just log entries and 337s, for the avionics.

Any thoughts about what I can do at this point? Would affidavits from the installer and previous owners do any good? Or am I stuck with a $4000 battery monitor?

Bob Davison
via e-mail

Since sending this letter, reader Davison reports that BFGoodrich stepped in and provided the repair services, after determining that the Stormscope in question was legitimately installed in the airplane.

Were publishing his letter as reminder to owners to make sure avionics and other critical serial numbers are recorded in aircraft logs, 337s and on invoices.

In addition to settling any questions about legal ownership or recovering boxes in case of theft, serials in the logs will also make it unnecessary to remove the boxes to check for AD or service bulletin compliance.

Simpler GPS
First, I have enjoyed your publication for years. I read it cover-to-cover every month. Now, for a question:

Last October, I realized a 20-year-old dream with the purchase of a T-34. I am now ready to tear out the mostly stock panels and put in all new panels with digital IFR avionics. One key decision is the IFR certified GPS.

I have little experience with these units since my previous airplane did not have one. I took a class on the KLN 89B. It was a four-hour session and at the end of the first two hours, all 12 students and the instructor were lost.

My opinion and that of several CFIIs I have talked to is that these units are entirely too complicated to use. And I love Bendix/King gear and have had it in several airplanes. Great stuff.

Has Aviation Consumer done an article on ease-of-use of IFR certified GPS? In looking through my back issues, I couldnt find one. I did find one comparing the KLN 89B with the 90B, but I think both are off my list.

I understand that the Northstar M3 is easy to use, but I hate to give up the moving map. Adding an Argus moving map seems a little expensive given that most GPSs already have one.

One of the reasons I like your publication so much is that you get to heart of the necessary comparisons and give your readers the facts. The problem Im having with choosing a GPS is that I am getting a lot of conflicting opinions.

Dan Thomas
via e-mail

We have addressed the GPS complexity issue, most recently in the January, 1998 issue of Aviation Consumer. We expect the next generation of GPS navigators to be marginally simpler to operate, but not necessarily as simple as a conventional VOR receiver. (Then again, GPS has to do more so its unrealistic to expect it to be simple to operate.)

That said, we think the Northstar M3 wins the simple-to-operate sweepstakes, followed by the Garmin and Bendix/King designs and the newer offerings from IIMorrow. In our view, IIMorrows and Trimbles early units were more difficult to learn than were competing navigators.

Watches for Pilots
Thanks for the article on the ideal watch for flying. (See Aviation Consumer, April, 1998.) Some people are flashlight-oholics, others handheld-GPS-oholics. Im a watchoholic and am always looking for exactly the right features in a flying watch.

I don’t have complex tastes. All I need is one watch that shows these three things at the same time, no pushing of buttons: (1) digital Zulu time, (2) digital stopwatch for fuel management and (3) analog hands for local time. Anything else just weighs you down.

Ive got a Citizen Navihawk, which is about the best Ive seen and it almost has everything I want. For anyone considering it, heres some inside info from actual use in the air:

The buttons are too easy to push; not enough spring force. You can stop the stopwatch, for instance, by bumping into stuff in the cockpit. This is disconcerting when using as a fuel timer. Timex and Casio seem to have gotten this right, but not Citizen.

The 24-hour Zulu clockface is too hard to read; cant tell without staring at it whether its 2211 or 2311. In turbulence, its impossible; another example of the manufacturer making something because it looked cool, not because it would be useful.

And the Zulu face is mostly unreadable when the big local time hands are retracted-since they retract directly the Zulu face. How useless is this? You retract the hands-as Citizen advertises-because you want to see the rest of the data unobstructed.

They could have retracted the hands over the 8:00 oclock position or over the equally useless single-hand hour face. The only benefit to retracting the hands is to see the digital window; all else is hosed up.

The E6B around the face is in fact useable in flight. I wouldnt do many calculations on it, but I do set groundspeed under the pointer and it becomes a handy way to determine when to start a letdown from a high-altitude cruise.

Its still a useful watch. Being able to swap time zones between big analog hands to the digital section is handy if you travel a lot acrosstime zones. But even if its engineers listened to pilots when designing it, they clearly are not pilots.

Man, if theyd only ask me first!

Ash Collins
via e-mail