First Word

Ever had an MRI? When you reach a certain age, sooner or later, some doc will want to examine your innards by sliding your pink carcass into the Long Tunnel of Terror. I had one about 10 years ago and before the nurse shoved me into the thing, like a round into a chamber, she casually mentioned that, oh, some people have problems with er…um…claustrophobia. Not to worry, she said, theyd be able to hear the screaming from inside the control booth.

She was right. It took serious discipline to keep from freaking out and soiling myself inside a multi-million dollar medical marvel. Bravely, I tamped down the demons and eventually snoozed through it. Or maybe I passed out. Not

sure, really. It all came rushing back when the editorial brain trust around here-that would be me-decided we needed a product review of cockpit smoke hoods. Cory Emberson gamely did the smoky part on the West Coast but we did some photos here in Florida, for which I tried on the COGO hood shown here. One word: eeek! Its like pulling a balloon over your head and what I wasnt expecting was the mighty suck required to draw a breath through all that filter material.

This proved intensely claustrophobic. The hoods arent easy to don for the first time and are maybe a little harder to remove, especially if panic is fraying your otherwise crisp and buttoned-down edges. The point is that ignoring what they cost, smoke hoods arent a free ride otherwise. You have to train in their use. If I was handed one in a burning airplane and told to don it or die in the smoking crater, I might just say, gimme a minute on that, willya?

Live and in Stereo, Its Dale Klapmeier

Back in the early days of the World Wide Web-thatd be about last February-we were approached by some pimply faced computer nerds who sketched for us a shining city on the hill. Web publishing would be dirt cheap, they said, because there would be no printing and postage to bother with. Despite innocence befitting their youth, they turned out to be lying scum. Web publishing is, in fact, quite expensive because those very same nerds charge $400 an hour to write programming code, which the typical site requires about a billion lines of.

But the good thing is that editors and publishers can do things with Web technology that ink on paper simply cant match. Beginning this month, for example, were launching a new feature in conjunction with our sister publication, In preparing articles for Aviation Consumer, were often frustrated by not being able to tell more of what we know. Now we can. Each issue of Aviation Consumer will have at least one long-form audiocast related to an article in that issue. This months inaugural cast features a conversation with Cirruss Dale Klapmeier on what he thinks the company has done right and what its done wrong with regard to long-term airframe durability.

The Lycoming AD

As we go to press this month, the FAA announced a final AD on the Lycoming crankshaft disaster. Some 3774 owners of Lycoming O-360 and O-540 engines will have to replace crankshafts within 12 calendar years or when the case is opened at the next opportunity. The entire crankshaft mess is a stunning example of lack of accountability and shoddy quality control by both Lycoming and the FAA. Worse, the two entities have almost formed a consortium to force owners to pay for these mistakes, in my estimation.

The FAA has simply not been accountable in answering how it arrived at the ADs gauzy conclusions and in so doing, it has basically rubber stamped Lycomings plan to have owners bear the brunt of the companys quality control shortfalls. Never answered was this question: If the crankshafts were defective, they should be replaced immediately. And if they arent defective, why replace them at all? As is so often the case, the answers may come in court. A California owner has filed a class action suit against Lycoming, seeking to be made whole for costs incurred in replacing his crankshaft. Given the number of fellow owners adversely affected, Ill be surprised if that suit doesnt gain some serious traction. Paul Bertorelli