Letters: 03/05

Lycoming Core Charge
The article in your January issue warning of Lycomings new core policy came 90 days late for our fully restored 1969 Cherokee 180. Unfortunately, my partner and I have become fully familiar with the $3000 case charge and the $3500 crankshaft price. Our engine, unbeknownst to us, contained an ECI aftermarket crankshaft and the case bore a stamp from a field overhaul.

Lycoming rejected both and charged us full price. In the interest of full disclosure, they did, in fact, ship us a factory reman, rather than the factory overhaul we ordered. And it does contain all new parts, so we did get a pretty good deal.

However, because Lycoming failed to properly publicize their new policy, shops all over the world are now taking a lot of flack from customers like myself, who anticipated paying $16,000 to $18,000 for a factory overhaul of an O-360 and ended up paying in excess of $22,000 instead.

To the average corporate operator, its a budget entry. To two working stiffs like us, trying to pay the bills for a recreational aircraft, adding 30 percent to the cost of the engine change is enough to push us over the top as we reach for wallets to overload the credit card once again.

Prior to this, we were actively shopping for a Piper Aztec as our upgrade aircraft. With two Cherokees in our past, weve liked Lycoming until now and thought the IO-540 would be a good step up. Were now test flying Cessna 310s and E-55 Barons; we’ll give Continental a try.

Dennis Boykin
Leesburg, Virginia


WAAS Approaches
In response to your article, WAAS Flight Trials, in the January issue, being an owner/operator of a CNX-80/GNS480, I find your conclusion puzzling. You state that while the vertical guidance is nice-to-have, because you have flown but one GPS approach in the past year, an investment in such a device is presumably not prudent?

I would argue the fact that because you fly non-precision approaches infrequently is exactly the reason to have a WAAS approach-capable receiver. When I flew for a commuter airline throughout Wisconsin and Upper Michigan-where radar coverage was limited-and the airports we served were often without precision approaches, we became proficient in flying full non-precision approaches. In fact, doing so in the throes of extreme winter weather became no more demanding than landing the airplane in a stiff crosswind, for example. When it came time for a six-month proficiency checkride, there was little the training department could throw at us that we hadnt seen flying the line.

However, when I went to work for a major airline, we flew primarily into large airports served almost exclusively by precision approaches. Few pilots didnt sweat flying the required non-precision approaches on the six-month checkride. Why? Because we flew them so infrequently. In fact, one old airline captain I flew with once joked that flying a circling NDB approach on the line would mandate the declaration of an in-flight emergency!

My airline, much like the others, has had a long history of accidents/incidents related specifically to non-precision approaches. So when my airline upgraded its fleet to the Airbus A-320, it included vertical guidance on all non-precision approaches. All approaches in the A-320 are either ILS approaches or LNAV/VNAV approaches and have been so for the past five years. Why would the airline go to the expense to have airline-specific vertical guidance approaches built for its airliners and crews? Simple: safety. There is no question that providing vertical guidance for all approaches increases the safety margin of the operation significantly.

I accept that if you never fly non-precision instrument approaches, you are not we’ll served by a WAAS GPS receiver. However, if you fly even just one of these approaches each year, having such guidance will increase your operational safety margin significantly.

After having used the Garmin GNS480 in my general aviation airplane, I find it hard to imagine anyone upgrading their avionics to anything less.

Ken Sutton
Via e-mail

Everyone faces the reality of budget limitations. Consider the owner of a 1978 Piper Archer with, say, a Bendix/King KLN89 in the panel, a perfectly serviceable IFR GPS. Assume he flies a handful of non-precision approaches a year.

We agree that having vertical guidance is inarguably safer for non-precision approaches than not having it. But is that safety enhancement worth the $10,000 to $12,000 it will cost for such minimal use? We say its marginal and its reasonable to defer the investment. Of course, if you already own a Garmin AT GNS480, the upgrade is free and we all agree that free is good.


Oregon Aero Seats
In the January 2005 issue of Aviation Consumer, the box on page 13 labeled Best Bet: Oregon Aeros Seat Mod makes the statement, …it has done research to show that conformal-foam equipped seats can meet the FAAs 19G, 1500-pound lumbar loading for FAR Part 23 aircraft. I attended Mike Dennis forum on his new high-G seat, which is standard equipment in the RV-10. The high-G seat does meet the FAR Part 23 crashworthiness standards, but only because of its particularly rigid structure in addition to the foam. The foam alone will not allow a normal airplane seat to meet the crashworthiness standard. Im sure the writer knew this, but the wording doesnt make that clear.

I purchased a Universal SoftSeat for use in my Taurus at Oshkosh and am extremely happy with it. My lower back pain and stiffness on trips has disappeared. My partners and I are planning to install Oregon Aero seat cushions in our Sportsman as we’ll as stiffen the seat pans with a pair of fiberglass lay-ups positioned vertically under each seat, as suggested by Mike.

DeWitt (Dee) Whittington
Richmond, Virginia


Politics and Airplanes
Just received my January 2005 issue and was looking forward to reading about the GNS480 and the Piper Navajo. Open to page 2 and find… crap. Look, I know we all have political opinions, but thats not what I subscribe to your magazine for.

To peddle yourself as providing independent product test report of airplanes, aviation equipment and gear then spend two-thirds of a page pontificating about Social Security, deficit spending and ATC salaries violates the trust you have with your subscribers.

I can listen to Rush Limbaugh or Michael Moore if I want to educate myself on public policy. Your job is to help me buy my next airplane or piece of airplane equipment.

So spin off another magazine if you want to stand on your soapbox and sound off about political issues. Reserve the pages of Aviation Consumer for exactly what you say theyre for: impartial and uncompromising evaluations of aircraft, avionics, accessories, equipment and more.

Craig Rairdin
Cedar Rapids, Iowa

Aviation Consumer is all about pocketbook issues for owners and pilots. We cant imagine any more overarching pocketbook issue than ATC user fees, which is what the editorial was about. Aviation and politics have always been joined at the hip. From time to time, we think it fair game to comment on how the latter affects the former.


In our January article on watercooled engines, we reported that Liquid Cooled Airpower would recommend changing the water pump every 500 hours. In fact, the pump is designed to last the life of the engine with a potential operating life of 5000 hours. The coolant and thermostat may have 500-hour replacement intervals. Also, pump failure testing wasnt carried out until the engine seized but until CHTs reached 350 degrees F.