Letters: 03/03

Ercoupe Lover
Loved your coverage of the Ercoupe in the January issue of Aviation Consumer. Ive admired the little beggar ever since my ride in one over 50 years ago. Superb engineering produced a machine that personifies, for me, recreational flying. The hangar BS artists who put the knock on it were (are) the same sort of clowns who pooh-pooh the Porsche 924.

You brought me up short, though, with this business of Boeing using Ercoupes to train 707 pilots to land in a crab.Are you certain that you havent been taken in by an old wives tale? Any fool can land an airplane in a crab. It hardly takes training.

For more years than Ill admit, I flewlarge (142-foot wingspan, 99-foot long) piston-engine birds whose outboard prop arcs came a lot closer to the concrete than the outboard engine pods of the 707.

I always flewfinal in a full crab. It (a) felt better than cross-controlling, and (b) I wasnt washing out part of my downwind wing and horizontal stab/elevator, which to me is sloppy aviation. After all, you don’t fly that way on an instrument final. (I hope.)

Also, with landing gear atfull extension of the oleos, as they are in flight and at the moment of touchdown, there’s considerably more roll leeway than is observable with the oleos fully depressed-which state exists only when the wings have lost all lift.

And its rather a lovely and satisfying maneuver to gently feed in rudder to ease out the crab as you crank in a little aileron upwind and leter slide on the upwind wheels. Its always seemedto me a lot wiser to let an airplane function true to its own element until just before itsnecessary to make it straighten out and become a ground vehicle. The procedureserved me we’ll in little ones,middlin ones and big ones, piston, turboprop and jet.

-Robert J. Powers
Via e-mail

Actually, the story about Ercoupes being used for training Boeing pilots may indeed be apocryphal. And youre right, it takes more nerve than skill to drive an airplane onto the runway in a crab.


More on MFDs
The article on MFDs by Larry Anglisano in the January issue was great. However, I noted that the WSI InFlight weather datalink interface was shown as not being supported by any of the manufacturers MFDs being discussed.

While this is technically correct at this time, I want to inform your readers that while WSI is somewhat delayed in bringing their WSI Inflight datalink product to market with interface capability to these various MFDs, they are working hard on the problem.

Your readers can go to the WSI Inflight website at: www.wsi.com/solutions/aviation/inflight/ and click on display options to learn the current list of displays that are capable of being interfaced to the WSI product.

Currently thats the ADR FG-3600 Series of Electronics Flight Bags (EFB), the Northstar CT-1000 EFB, and the Fujitsu tablet computers. The interface to the UPS Aviation Technologies MX-20 MFD and the Sandel Avionics ST3400 TAWS/RMI Display should be available in early 2003.

WSI has been selected to provide weather link data to the Rockwell Collins Pro Line 21 Avionics System and this interface should be available late in 2003 or early 2004.

-William R. Hemme
AvReps International


Toyotas Plans
We were approached at AOPA Palm Springs by a California engineer working on avionics for Toyota. They are building a server-based cockpit using Linux to move information around with a maze of linear CPUs and sensors. The information bus is a fiber optic network running through the aircraft creating a de-centralized IP bus. Very clever.

In business, the Japanese build whats called a keiretsu, an ethnic name for a mini-trust consisting of one or more banks, prime manufacturers and engineers, materials suppliers and a government entity which guarantees varying levels of subsidy. The group operates as a single unit sharing in costs and profits according to prearranged agreements.

They also include close association with a tight distribution network guaranteeing presence, transportation and cost control. The net effect is to be able to drastically hold down costs from the beginning of a project to its conclusion, maintain highest quality standards and essentially eat their way into the most sensitive parts of a given market.

It would be like Cessna, Alcoa, Bank of America, the IRS, Amtrak and UPS getting together to build a jet aircraft market. Labor cost controls would be a given, liberal tax incentives and financing subsidies would be expected and a tight 10-year-plan would be in place. Like the auto industry 30 years ago, aircraft manufacturing still runs on the tools and assembly lines of the past. Every U.S. manufacturer is vulnerable from top to bottom in the face of a tightly organized, mechanized and subsidized competitor who is willing to expend 10 to 15 years in decimating rivals in a market they have targeted.

They forced Ford and GM to basically retool. Detroit couldnt compete for we’ll over 10 years because their infrastructure was essentially unchanged from what had been built before World War II. The Japanese are concerned with a broader view of business than, say Germany, a country with no shortage of engineering talent or production expertise.

The Japanese, however, never regard themselves as anything but at war when it comes to business.

Like the driving public, the immediate beneficiary will be pilots. In the long run, we will lose an industry we pioneered, perfected and contributed thousands of lives to. It is, indeed, war.

-Richard Herbst
Control Vision
Pittsburg, Kansas

Control Vision markets the Anywhere Map navigation program which runs on PDAs. Contact them at www.controlvision.com.


Add my name to the list of very satisfied GAMIjector customers. I added them to my Continental IO-520-L four years ago. I already had the JPI engine monitor. This combination makes sense from an economic as we’ll as a safety standpoint. The engine smoothness is the natural result of running your engine the correct way.

After you have done it a few times, running the engine lean of peak with GAMIs and a JPI becomes second nature. You pull the mixture back to a certain setting youve used before and watch as the CHTs settle in the 360- to 380-degree range.

One thing you didnt mention is that when lean of peak, the relationship of power to fuel flow is linear, so that every gallon/hour of fuel in a normally aspirated engine produces 14.9 HP, no matter what the MP and RPM settings.

For turbos, which have lower compression ratios, the figure is 13.7 HP. After I level off, I do the big mixture pull and cruise at 13.4 GPH, which yields 200 HP or about 70 percent power. Going to 14.4 GPH yields 75 percent power but is possible only up to about 5000 feet.

I would also recommend John Deakins articles about piston-engine operation (one of the instructors at the APS school mentioned in the same issue) on AVweb (www.avweb.com).

It was his writings about LOP operation and how piston engines work that convinced me of the wisdom of GAMIs and JPI engine analyzers.

If you fly an airplane powered with one or two big-bore Continentals, whether turbo, normally-aspirated or turbo-normalized, these two items are a necessity. They are the only way to keep all CHTs below 380 degrees and EGTs/TIT under control.

-Peter Ver Lee
Via e-mail


In our article on MFDs in the January issue of Aviation Consumer, we reported that Garmin has no plans to add terrain detail to the 400/500 series navigators.

Garmin informs us that beginning later this year, buyers will be able to upgrade these displays to depict terrain with color detail. The display will look similar to the Garmin ColorMap 295.

Because of a production error, we indicated that approach plate display is available on the Garmin 530, however, this capability is not planned by Garmin.