Letters: 03/04

Cirrus vs. Diamond
The December, 2003 issue of Aviation Consumer was fun and informative, as usual. The airplane comparison between the SR20 and DA40 held special interestfor me as I enjoy new, improved technology and general aviation could certainly use a shot in the arm on that score. Im just not so sure about the improved part of that equation.

With regard to the DA40, it is a great looking airplane and I readily believe that it is a hoot to fly. But, (there’s always a big but isn’t there?) for a guy who would love to leap into the future of GA, the value just doesnt add up.

While I realizethe following is an apples-and-oranges exercise, it still comes down to value and performance. The DA40 is a solid 20 knots slower than my Cessna 182RG, can fly half as long, has a payload that is at least 140 pounds less, doesnt climb better, isn’t a better short-field performer, has a lower service ceiling and has what appears to me to be a much smaller cabin, especially rear leg-room.

I know, I have 55 more horsepower and folding legs. But for goodness sake, I couldnt even take a reasonable trip with my wife and two daughters in the DA40. Honest, you wont see any of us in weight-watchers ads but put all of us in the airplane with full fuel and we have a paltry 40 pounds left for bags. Of course, if I need to go IFR, the range is laughable, not to mention that with the published service ceiling, I cant go IFR anywhere west of my home airport, Jeffco Airport in Colorado.

In fact, VFR west would be unsafe to the point that I would have to make significant detours to get anywhere west of home.

The DA40 strikes me as a glorified trainer that has very little usefulness in the personal transportation market. Even compared to the Cessna 172SP, the DA40 doesnt strike me as a huge (or even modest) leap forward, especially for the money youd save by buying the Cessna 172SP.

Now, tell me I can get it insured for $700/year, annuals run $500 and nothing,I mean nothing, breaks, then it may make sense. Ill just have to ship luggage ahead everywhere we want to go. Keep up the good work.

-Marty Coniglio
Denver, Colorado


KMD250 Approvals
In response to Larry Anglisanos concern regarding field approvals for new installations of the Bendix/King KMD 250 (see Aviation Consumer, January 2004), be advised that Honeywell was issued STC SA01205WI-D that certifies the airworthiness requirements of the KMD 250 in over 300 Part 23 model aircraft.

In accordance with the guidance provided by the FAA in Policy Statement PS-ACE100-2002-002, the KMD 250 STC is an Approved Model List (AML) Supplemental Type Certificate (STC).

Recognizing the contribution full-featured MFDs will make to aviation safety in the GA cockpit, the FAA encourages the use of the AML STC to expedite the installation approval of multi-function displays.

From the perspective of an avionics manufacturer (and, for that matter, the aviation consumer), the AML STCs are a huge step in the right direction to control the costs associated with certification and installation approval of avionics intended for Part 23 aircraft.

-Kim Preston
Honeywell Bendix/King
Flight Test and Certification


Hangar Floors
With regard to your hangar floor paint article in the January, 2004 issue, although Ive not done a hangar floor, Ive done several garage floors. The first try was with water-based (environmentally friendly) acrylic paint for floors from the hardware store.

I dutifully did the concrete cleaning exercise, including muriatic acid. Note the fumes from the muriatic acid corroded the cast iron shop tools I had nearby. Message: keep things that might corrode away from muriatic acid.

The paint went down fine. However, parking cars on it caused it to peel from the concrete. I don’t think this has anything to do with tire temperature, just the tire pressing on the paint; the paint then sticks to the tire better than the concrete. Message: don’t use cheap floor paint. Of course, if you spill any solvent-based enamel paint on concrete, its not good for the environment and you cant get it off the concrete! Sigh.

A contractor friend asked me why I just didnt use floor tile. So, for the first try at this some 10 years ago, I cleaned off the cheapfloor paint as best I could, bought cheap floor tiles at 29 cents a square foot and put them down with adhesive. Worked pretty good. When you booger a tile, just peel it off and replace it.

But on the next garage I did, I decided to get better industrial-grade floor tiles and am happy with them; I got Armstrong Standard Excelon Vinyl Composition Tile. The ones I got from a discount hardware store were 59 cents a square foot. If youre picky, you can use floor wax on these and get a decent shine. They will stain from repeated oil leaks and from where the tire patch contacts the floor, but other than some discoloration, they have been great. They are more durable than the cheap tiles I used and so far, I have not had to replace any after five years of usage. This is easier than painting concrete floors.

-Don Wollesen
Via e-mail


In the never-ending quest for a shiny and smooth hangar floor, what rules out using vinyl or linoleum floor coverings as commonly used in home bathrooms?

They come in an endless selection of colors and patterns and would go down 10 times easier than the epoxy hell paint you depicted in the January, 2004 article. What am I missing-the dreaded tire lift-off?

-Name withheld by request

We received several e-mail asking the same question. As reader Don Wollesen says, if youre going to use tile, use a quality tile, preferably composition and not cheap vinyl. And buy enough so you can replace tiles that get stained or broken.


Battery OEM
With respect to Kim Santerres article in the January, 2004 issue of Aviation Consumer, we think the statement (OEM or Not?) on page 12 is misleading. A check with Concorde would surely have set Kim straight about current OEM installations. And so what if the batteries are not OEM in a particular aircraft? Why is this a downside? Kim seems to be referring to past history with regard to fit in some Cessnas and Pipers.

We installed Concorde RG batteries in our Mooney in 1998. Prior to that time we had Concorde lead-acid batteries installed in 1994 and prior to that, it was always Gill lead-acid. We generally change the batteries after four or five years, believing that preventive maintenance is better than waiting until the engine will not turn over.In October 2002, we asked our shop to change the batteries and insisted that they be RG. The shop had a preference for Gill and thus installed these recently available RG batteries. By August of 2003, one of the Gills was dead and the other was on life support. They were replaced with Concordes. (Teledynes warranty covered the cost.)

We certainly agree with Kim Santerre about which is the better battery and it is unlikely we will use Gill RGs again.

-Rae Willis
Morristown, New Jersey

Actually, check the details in our December, 2003 lead-in report about battery technology. We reported that both Gill and Concorde warn in writing that some battery box mods or, in extreme cases, airframe mods may be required even on batteries that have approval for your airplane under an STC from them.

If the identical batteries were OEM, this wouldnt be a concern because the boxes/cases would be sized correctly. And for the record, we allow manufacturers to set us straight via phone and e-mail many times during the course of researching a major test article.