Letters 11/99

Do Ask, Do Tell
Coy Jacobs article in the July issue titled Good Jugs, Bad Jugs was very informative. But I was concerned about your comment made in the box titled The 10-minute Cylinder Inspection. You said that disassembling a cylinder may be the best argument weve heard for don’t ask, don’t tell, with regard to not logging the disassembly to avoid warranty problems with the supplier.

This statement is totally against FAA regulations, (FAR 43.9) which I am sure you are we’ll aware of. I realize you are trying to help pilots and aircraft owners to be better and safer, but to ask them to blatantly ignore the regulations doesnt help, especially when FAA violates them on your recommendation.

If you feel you must advise your readers to break the FARs at least warn them. When I went to A&P school in the 1960s, we were taught that all maintenance must be recorded. I will admit that its not always done. But the regulations never changed.

Putting the regulations aside, think of the moral issue: Mr. Pilot or Mechanic removes the valves and reinstalls them improperly (keeper jammed, whatever), the owner installs them on his aircraft and it comes apart.

The FAA comes in and blames the manufacturer and the guy who last inspected it at the factory. I hope this is not what you are condoning. Id suggest a review of Advisory Circular 43-9C, which goes into this in some detail.

-Neil Gillissen
Aviation Safety Inspector
Farmingdale FSDO
Farmingdale, New York

We think the requirement to log all maintenance is open to some interpretation and judgment. In practical terms, mechanics remove and inspect parts routinely without logging the work, both in the course of routine troubleshooting and minor repair. As long the work is done properly, we don’t have much heartburn about that.

Well be the first to admit, however, that not all FSDOs agree with this view. But were certain some will. If readers need a warning, let this be it.

Skyline Fan
Ive been meaning to write to you about Skyline Aviation. I think when a company does a good job, it should be noted just as much as when it does not live up to expectations.

I was glad to see the article about tugs and tows in your September 1999 issue. Ive owned my taildragger dragger for about five years. I use it three or four times a week to pull/push my Cessna 195 out of or into the hangar.

The unit does the job it was designed for but the customer service that I get from Jack at Skyline is the absolute best! Over five years of ownership, Ive had to call Skyline three times. The first was an assembly question which Jack talked me through in about five minutes. The two other calls related to a worn belt, which he promptly shipped out and wouldnt let me pay for. (After three years).

The third call after five years concerned the chain, which due to normal wear and tear, had become too loose. Jack sent me another one without asking for payment. As to your concern about the unit requiring assembly, if you cant assemble the Skyline unit, maybe you shouldnt be flying your own airplane. The assembly was quick and easy and took about 30 minutes.

As for other pilots concerns, Ive heard about damaging the tailwheel or the rear bulkhead, which is claimed to be a weak point on my big taildragger. Its not the tow thats causing the damage. Flying and landing with a deflated tailwheel strut is the most probable cause of damage for those pilots.

Id love to give Skyline more of my business because I like to do business with companies that appreciate me. Since I don’t see the unit wearing out any time soon and since Jack wont let me pay for the parts, this is the only way I can think to reward him and Skyline. Thanks Jack!

-Reed Somberg
Miami, Florida

Helo Tows
Based upon the business being generated by the local helicopter flightschool, I suspect the number of private helicopter pilots is increasing, along with the need to move helicopters from the barn out on to the ramp.

I read the recent tugs and tows article with great interest, hoping to find a reference to tows used to move small helicopters. Alas, there was none. I recently purchased a used Tug-A-Lug helicopter tug and am very happy with it. It slides under the helicopter and then lifts up to cradle the skid cross-tubes and lift the aircraft off the ground. It is powered by two truck batteries and operates in fast and slow modes, forward and reverse.

Ease of handling and steering is accomplished by the use of a universal joint at the base of the handle. The factory support for the tug has been excellent. Tug-A-Lug is based in Lancaster, California and their number is 661-944-1910.

-Scott Barer
Los Angeles, California

Tow Traction
Last year my wife and I built a 90×90-foot heated hangar in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, where we get up to 350 inches of snow.

The Fab Shop tow seemed ideal, as it takes airplanes with wheelpants on its ramp, you can get a wide ramp for dual nosegear of MU2s, it doesnt pollute our hangar and with its batteries, we put a dedicated light on it for night towing.

The only drawbacks are the slip differential which allows one wheel to slip freely in our frequent snow and its top speed is a very slow walk. If you are going to use a tug in snow, make sure both wheels drive (as on the FAB) but try to get limited slip differential. I know of no machines that have this. We are going to try to modify ours. Except for the traction problem, it pushes anything from Cessna 152s to Citation Jets without complaint.

-Doug McKenzie
Hancock, Michigan