Letters: 04/03

I enjoyed your article on Battle of the Back-ups. The first thing I look for in any article regarding vacuum pump failures is any comment about a warning light. None being present, I will continue my assertion that this simple, inexpensive item should be a must in any airplane venturing into IMC.

I have had three pump failures in 35 years of flying and I assure you, it is an insidious occurrence, as was we’ll documented in your research project. Fortunately, they were all in VMC. On one occasion, I decided to let it do its thing (on autopilot) and it was soon progressing into a very nice spiral.

It takes 6.7 minutes to recognize a vacuum failure? I would think the FAA, AOPA and any other representative organization would be jumping up on the table pounding their fists! Even in the minimum illustration of 3.6 minutes, the airplane would be wingless! With a warning light, you would know about the failure in 3.6 seconds, unless you were napping at the time.

-David Alger
Via e-mail

I’m a belt-and-suspenders kind of guy, but all the fuss about back-up gyros goes right over my head. With an all-electric S-TEC autopilot, I feel pretty confident about getting down out of the clag if I lose vacuum. Just put George on wing-level mode and the dirty side stays down. What am I missing?

-Gary Anderson
Eugene, Oregon

You’re missing the fact that not everyone has an S-TEC autopilot. Further, in the event of a vacuum failure, a vacuum-driven HSI will fail, rendering the heading hold function inoperative.


Just a note to say thanks for the article on back-up gyros. I have been looking for a back-up system and I had heard of the three you reviewed.

You mentioned Anywhere Map towards the end of your article, but no mention of the Anywhere Map attitude indicator (see www.controlvision.com/pages/ai.htm for more info).

Is there any plan to review this product in the near future? It seems like a logical choice for someone like me who already uses the Anywhere Map system, but I sure would like to see a review from Aviation Consumer before jumping in.

It was your review of the Anywhere Map system that convinced me to buy it over the Garmin 295 and I have been very pleased with it since.

-Ron Sisemore
Via e-mail

Although we don’t have a review of the Control Vision product on the editorial calendar at the moment, we’ve got it on our list of things to do.


PFD Power?
I enjoyed the review of Avidyne’s Entegra in the December issue. One big down side that I can see is apparently generic to ADAHRS, as you reported. What happens if the Entegra loses power in flight?

Sounds like it will never come back on line, since you can’t remain stationary in flight. At least a gyro, when tumbled, will usually right itself after a while.

This is a real problem and I’m surprised the FAA allows certification with a bug like this. There have been a few times, in my clumsiness in turbulence, when I’ve inadvertently hit the avionics master, shutting everything down. What do you do in IMC if you smell smoke in the cabin, run the drill (master off), resolve the problem and power back up? Or what if a power glitch pops the circuit breaker to the Entegra?

As a minimum, there ought to be a “flight mode detector” or a “pilot override,” whereby the pilot can force the unit to display information, albeit with a flashing X somewhere to keep the lawyers happy. At least give me “needle, ball and airspeed.”

-Mike Palmer
via e-mail

As we noted in the article, the system as certified in the Cirrus does have conventional instruments for back-up, including an electrically driven attitude gyro and conventional airspeed and altimeter.

The Cirrus SR22 is an all-electric airplane, with dual buss/battery/alternator for redundancy. Only operational experience will tell if this is reasonable back-up for the way in which the airplane is used. Our guess is that it will be.


MFDs and Northstar
At the end of your article on MFDs in the January issue, you indicated that a Northstar M3 will run an EX500. From my research this is incorrect. If I’m wrong, then please let me know as I would Like to buy a EX500.

-Reese Barnes
via mail

Avidyne tells us that the M3 will work fine with its EX500. We have no reason to believe otherwise.


Adam Jet?
I have been a subscriber for about 10 years and have found your articles uniformly we’ll done and helpful. Your article in the February issue on mini-jets struck me as accurate and objective.

We at Adam Aircraft also have a personal jet coming to market. I would be pleased to go over the status of either our A500 or A700 product with you. You can see a lot at www.adamaircraft.com.

-Rick Adam
CEO, Adam Aircraft

In addition to the Adam personal jet, another mini-jet has been proposed by Diamond, with plans for a first flight in 2004.


Avemco Insurance
I am sure that Jon Doolittle’s article “Geezer Coverage” in your January issue will be helpful to many of your readers. I found, however, as I do with most articles of this type, that it leaves out an important point, and that is the position of Avemco.

This is understandable, given the fact that we do not market our products through commissioned independent agents such as JonDoolittle, but instead sell directly to the consumer.

Thus Doolittle’s statement, “We spoke to all of the major carriers about their policies regarding older pilots” is somewhat misleading since he did not talk to Avemco.

Your readers will need to contact us directly by phone or via our Website (www.avemco.com) to obtain our underwriting guidelines regarding pilot age. They will find Avemco has options for these pilots.

-Jim Lauerman
Chief Underwriting Officer
Avemco Insurance Company


Panther Headset
The article in the February 2003 issue about lightweight headsets made some good points about the Panther headset. I bought one for my wife in August.

After making the ear molds, we waited seven weeks to finally get the headset from Panther. As you noted in the article, there was no case and no instructions and we discovered that the mute switch wasn’t the one shown at Sun ‘n Fun, which was a locking mute, but a momentary switch, which is useless in many situations, in my estimation.

The sound quality for her was good but the microphone produces almost entirely unintelligible sound. And with any shifting of her body, the mike suddenly picks up lots of engine noise and breaks the squelch.

We returned the unit for a replacement of the mute switch to the locking one we had expected. That was at the end of November and as of this second week of January, we have not gotten the unit back.

As with the first initial long delay, repeated calls got the answer that the unit will ship in the next day or two. But then nothing!

If for no other reason than what I view as their abysmal customer service, I would strongly advise against Panther.

-Larry Bloom
via e-mail

We contacted Panther Electronics and were told the reader Bloom’s repaired headset shipped back to him in mid-January.

In another call to inquire about a delayed refund for a test headset we purchased, Panther told us it was working on shortening turnaround time for its products.


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