Letters: 11/03

Tiger Payload
In the article Loading with Abandon in your August issue, the author suggested that it was …almost impossible to put two full-sized people in [a Tiger] with full fuel… This statement is at best inaccurate and at worst false.

A survey of several hundred owners has elicited no information which indicates Tigers cannot be loaded with two full-sized adults with nothing in the back seat or baggage area and still remain within the forward CG. It was only with two 250-pounders that the forward CG limit was achieved on any Tiger and given that the FAA considers a standard adult to be 180 pounds [actually 170 or, lately, 190 pounds-Ed.] one can hardly call such large people full-sized.

Unless there was one exceptionally nose-heavy Tiger on which the author based his statement (in which case Id be very interested to review its weight and balance data for accuracy), I find it hard to believe that his statement is factually based.

Aviation Consumer has an excellent reputation for accuracy, and I think that unless you can provide better support for the statement, maintenance of that reputation demands an immediate correction.

-Ronald B. Levy
Safety Director
American Yankee Association

Youre correct. We inadvertently used an unrealistically high empty weight for our calculations. And by the way, we werent suggesting a forward or aft CG problem, we were implying a payload limitation.

According to our data, the typical Tiger has an empty weight in the 1400-pound range for a useful load of about 1000 pounds. Thats obviously more than enough to carry full fuel and two or even three people. We should have caught the error.


DVD Feedback
I am glad you review avionics and PS Engineerings DVD in the August issue of Aviation Consumer.I would like to point out that you can go to Best Buy, Circuit City and the like and get a portable DVD player for the backseat passengers for $300 to $700.

The advantage being that you dont have to mess with your panel, you can use it in the car and they can listen to it without bothering the PIC. You can obtain the small button earphones and use them under your headset.

The article on American Aeronautics CG plotters is nice as well but if you have a computer, you can easily set up an Excel spread sheet that you change the weight for the CG areas and it calculates if you are still within CG.

One of the advantages of doing it in Excel is that you can play with numbers and figure out what your maximum take off weight is with full fuel and how much weight you can put in the back seats before busting out the CG envelope. Also, if you are going to spend $50 on a plotter, why not spend more and get a nice flight planning software? I believe all the major ones also have a CG calculator built in.

-David B. Malin
Via e-mail


Its the FAA, Stupid
I just finished reading the September 2003 issue and found the articles on FADEC and 100LL very amusing. I hope they were written tongue-in-cheek. If not, you guys dont have a clue.

Your conclusions for FADEC, or something similar, not happening at anything like the modest pace its designer had hoped for totally overlooks the real reason why.The same can be said for replacements for 100LL fuel. First, FADEC, or its equivalent, will have to proceed 100LL replacements; not the other way around.

Your original predictions for a FADEC type engine management system were based on listening to the desires of fellow pilots. That, and watching the trends in the experimental sector.

The demise of general aviation, or better yet, the stagnation in developments for GA, can be directly connected to the same source: the FAA and its approval process. Until the entire process gets an overhaul, nothing is going to change.

Case(s) in point: Lets say you want to put a digital Horizon P-1000 tach in your airplane. First, youll need to see if the manufacturer, Horizon Instruments, included your airplane in its applicability listing. If it did, great. A couple of hours of filling out paperwork and youre done. If not, good luck.

You can always hope to get a field approval. Even if the engine operating limits and aircraft and engine combinations are similar to an approved application of the P-1000 tach, several months of aggravation and waiting are required. Why?

You could order a mechanical replacement from Aircraft Spruce and just put it in. The fact that the mechanical tach may or may not be accurate to within 5 percent makes no difference to the FAA.

Or, lets say you want to install an RG battery but your airplane just happens to be left off of the applicability list. Same thing; more aggravation. Its a battery, for Gods sake. Its a battery for use in a GA aircraft.Yet you cant use it without jumping through a lot of hoops. Or engine swaps. How about putting a 180-HP fuel injected engine in an airplane originally produced with a 180-HP carbureted engine. Years of aggravation and you just might get an STC.

Lets say youve got an airplane of which two models are made using the same Type Certificate Data Sheet, and you want to use the bigger engine out of the two in the airplane that has the smaller engine. Cant be done without an STC. What? But, its on the same TCDS! Sorry, the airplane didnt come that way.

I have a friend who wanted to put a Scott 3200 tailwheel on a Cessna 140. First, he tried a field approval. After 18 months of getting the runaround, he decided to go for an STC. Three years later, he gave up. The 3200 is hell-for-stout better than the original equipment tailwheel and yet it was never approved.

How about fabric covering? Heres a good one. I know someone who works with the FAA as an accident investigator. He is restoring a Rearwind. This Rearwind just happens to not be included in the applicability list for the Stits Poly Fiber process. Later Rearwinds are included, his isnt.

He was told to get his own STC to put Poly Fiber on his airplane. The FSDO wouldnt even consider a field approval and he wrote or edited portions of Part 43 dealing with wood and fabric. The Poly Fiber folks werent interested in funding the update to their applicability listing for one airplane.

What about interior fabrics? Automotive replacement fabrics are required to meet their own flammability tests. These tests meet the letter of, as well as the spirit of, Part 23. There is nothing in the Part 23 regulations that says fabric flammability tests need to be witnessed by anyone or that an 8110-3 needs to be available to show that the fabric is intended for use in a specific airplane and yet everyone in the FAA seems to feel like all material used in aircraft needs to be blessed by the FAA first. Not true, but try to convince the FAA.

Point is, there isnt one aircraft or engine manufacturer anywhere willing to jump through all the hoops to certify each and every possible aircraft or engine application for anything new. Its too cost prohibitive.

Take FADEC for example. Not only would FADEC need to be certified (by the engine maker) separately, for each engine model that someone (owner or manufacture) wants to use, but it would also need to be certified for each and every aircraft application.

FADEC isnt languishing because of indifference, its languishing because certification costs (and liability insurance) make it orders of magnitude more expensive than necessary.

Why not just make a system available that uses aircraft quality parts and make it applicable to say, 150-HP engines, 160-HP engines and so on? Then, if a guy wants to put FADEC in his Cherokee 180, he buys the kit and installs it. Should FADEC care what airplane its in? No. And neither should anyone else. Its a replacement for a carburetor.

Why would FADEC need to proceed the development of replacement fuels for 100LL? Replacement fuels are an easy solution once the hurdles to certifying FADEC type engine management systems, for each and every engine and airframe combination, are solved.

Like I said, the approval process for general aviation progress is broken. The FAA and the whole approval process needs to be overhauled, reevaluated, and streamlined if there is to be any hope for getting general aviation out of its quagmire. Another friend of mine, who regularly works with the FAA, put it this way, The FAA isnt here to make flying safer, its here to make flying more expensive.

-Steve Maxdon
via e-mail


I bought two DRE 6000 ANR headsets a couple of years ago after your recommendation.

After a couple of years of rugged use, they needed repairs. I boxed em up, sent them back to DRE and had them back in one week at no charge except shipping. Great product with a great company behind it.

-Reese Barnes
Houston, Texas