AVwebFlash - Volume 14, Number 9a

February 25, 2008

By The AVweb Editorial Staff
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The Latest Battle Between NATCA and the FAA back to top 

NATCA/FAA Rancor Cranked Up

Both the National Air Traffic Controllers Association and the FAA have turned up the volume on their rancorous relationship and it's all about an air traffic control supervisor's decision to cut the sound on a tragedy playing out in northeastern California. In a news release, NATCA is alleging that "controllers at Oakland Air Route Traffic Control Center last Sunday were deliberately prevented from monitoring the distress calls from a small plane in trouble" when the supervisor cut the sound on the loudspeaker system that was playing radio transmissions on the guard frequency concerning the engine-out emergency that ultimately led to the fatal crash of Steve Wilson's RV-7 near his home of Grass Valley, Calif. They also suggest the action by the supervisor is contrary to recurrent training taken by controllers that teaches them "to never assume that someone else is aware of an unsafe situation or an emergency, but rather to bring that situation to the attention of the proper controller or supervisor." But FAA spokesman Ian Gregor told AVweb in an e-mail that by the time the controllers in Oakland had tuned in, the plane had already crashed and all they heard were transmissions from another pilot who saw the crash and was circling the wreck waiting for help to arrive. Gregor said the supervisor could tell from the transmissions that the situation was being handled by another facility (an FSS in Rancho Murietta) and that there was nothing his staff could do to help the pilot. He was also concerned that the blaring speakers would distract controllers from handling traffic. But, of course, neither side was prepared to leave it at that.

Gregor accused the union of exploiting the accident as part of a disinformation campaign to try and get a better labor-relations deal from the FAA. "This is yet another example of the controller union leaders making unsubstantiated claims in their ongoing attempt to attack FAA management because they're unhappy with a labor contract that we put in place a year and a half ago," said Gregor. NATCA portrayed the supervisor's actions as reprehensible and against FAA policy. "During an actual emergency where someone needs help and their life may depend on the response, it is completely unconscionable," said Oakland NATCA representative Scott Conde. "In 20 years of air traffic control experience I have never heard of anyone turning off the 'Guard' channel during an emergency. It is so completely against what we are taught, retrained and reinforced to do, that any normal person would find it unthinkable." The NTSB doesn't mention anything about the radio transmissions in its preliminary report and the people of Grass Valley are mourning the loss of a well-liked businessman and family man. "He was a family man who loved his wife," his daughter Katie Wilson told The Union newspaper. "He really loved his grandchildren."

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Aviation Business Booming in Russia back to top 

Eclipse 500 VLJ -- A "First" For Russia

The first Eclipse 500 to be produced at the Russian Aviastar complex located at Ulyanovsk, Russia (the hometown of Vladimir Lenin), will also be the first foreign aircraft produced in that country, according to a report by Russia Today. Russian production of the Eclipse 500 very light jet (VLJ) is scheduled to begin next year now that Etirc Aviation, a Dutch investment company, has become Eclipse's largest shareholder. The Russian Aviastar aircraft complex will now be supported by $100 million in new investment, according to Russia Today, and Etirc's investment paves the way for building a second plant at the Ulyanovsk facility. Etirc expects the Russian facility to produce up to 500 jets per year beginning in 2009.

Eclipse CEO and president Vern Rayburn told Russia Today, "Russia is an economic nation, a nation that's really growing rapidly, economically. It's one of the most exciting places in the world." He added, "It's very easy for us to tap into."

Russia's $1 Billion Aircraft Complex

Russian president Vladimir Putin has ordered the creation of an aircraft manufacturing complex, to be built near Moscow and to include facilities for design, construction, testing and marketing of aircraft. The goal of the project is to revive Russia's aircraft industry from its current 10 commercial aircraft per year and raise that schedule to 5,800 aircraft by 2025 (of which 2,600 would be commercial aircraft). Putin also hopes the consolidation of facilities will provide a foundation for Russian aircraft manufacturing to cooperate and compete with other manufacturers like Airbus SAS and Boeing. The state-owned OAO United Aircraft Corp. would take on creation of the center, but no timeline has yet been announced. OAO envelops Sukhoi, Tupolev and Aeroflot aircraft, among other holdings.

Putin will step down from his position in May, but may retain significant political influence. Questions remain over how the new facility, to be located in Zhukovsky, would be staffed -- particularly, what personnel would be relocated and how other facilities already in place elsewhere would be utilized.

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News Briefs back to top 

Airport Lawsuit For Witham In Florida?

A long discussion between Martin County, Fla., and the FAA, seeking common ground to placate neighborhoods claiming safety concerns and negative impact from aircraft noise and exhaust at Witham Field, may be taking a judicial turn. The county's commission voted in 1998 to extend Witham's runway, but provided the FAA with maps that failed to mark all of the residences nearby, according to the Palm Beach Post. The FAA extended the runway per the information provided and now refuses to shorten it but has requested that the county correct the safety issues. The Witham Airport Action Majority (WAAM), identified by the Palm Beach Post as an activist group, argues the FAA should reduce the runway's length to safeguard nearby homes. And now a court may be asked to find a solution. The FAA has suggested adding soft concrete overrun buffers at the end of the runway to safeguard property -- an idea that has been dismissed by WAAM. WAAM notes that it would cost the county money to rebuild the barriers should they ever be used and points out that the solution does not address the issue of noise.

AOPA Pilot Celebrates Milestones

AOPA's monthly AOPA Pilot magazine has reached its 600th issue and, with its March 2008 issue, AOPA Pilot celebrates its 50th anniversary. The "largest-circulation aviation magazine in the world" is sent to all 415,000 AOPA members and marks the milestone in its March 2008 issue that includes "the very first 'Never Again' column." The March issue also introduces a new "This Month In Aviation" feature that will recount significant historical aviation happenings that occurred that month in aviation's history. AOPA has also this month made available online the very first issue of AOPA Pilot magazine. Readers can "flip through the pages, just as if they were holding an original copy in their hands."

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Lost & Fallen Comrades back to top 

Crash Widow Denied Benefits By Court

Christine Wells-Groff, the widow of a firefighting pilot killed in the line of duty, has been denied federal death benefits by the U.S. Supreme Court. The ruling was finalized when the court declined to hear the widow's appeal on her own and other widows' behalf. Unlike public safety employees killed in the line of duty, the widows are not entitled to roughly $250,000 in federal death benefits because their husbands worked for a company that provides pilots for the California Department of Forestry (CDF) and not directly for the state. To the law, it makes no difference that the men flew CDF-owned aircraft, wore CDF uniforms and operated at the direction of the CDF. Widows have been excluded from federal death benefits since 1980, when the Department of Justice decided to exclude from federal death benefits tanker pilots hired by contract for seasonal firefighting.

"It's shaken my confidence in myself and in what's right and what's wrong," Wells-Groff told PressDemocrat.com. The widow said the injustice would keep her fighting and her lawyer added that bills that address the legislation were winding their way through the House and Senate. A life insurance policy held by Wells-Groff's husband also denied payment, in that case, because the pilot was flying an aircraft when he died.

Piper Cherokee Lost In Iceland-To-Scotland Flight

Icelandic rescue services and an RAF Nimrod search-and-rescue aircraft were looking Friday for a what they believed to be an American pilot presumed to have crashed at sea during a storm while flying from Reykjavik, Iceland, to Wick, Scotland. The pilot had contacted Iceland air traffic control to report severe icing and said he would attempt ditching. Less than 20 minutes prior to that, at 11:22 GMT, he had reported flying at 9,000 feet. He was "known to be in a survival suit but it was not clear whether he also had a dinghy," according to the BBC online, which reported weather as severe, "with heavy thunderstorms and a 20-foot swell. Search efforts include flights 450 miles from the Moray coast in the area of a distress beacon transmitted from the scene, until the aircraft sank.

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The Latest in Helicopters — Including Heli-Expo 2008 back to top 

CHC Accepts Takeover Bid

On the eve of the helicopter industry's biggest show came news of the helicopter industry's biggest buyout. Days before Heli-Expo 2008 got under way Sunday in Houston, Texas, the board of Vancouver-based CHC Helicopter Corp. has agreed in principle to the takeover of the company by First Reserve Corp. for a $1.5 billion offer that values the company at $3.7 billion. CHC is the largest oil platform-servicing company in the world and maintains a fleet of more than 300 helicopters all over the world. First Reserve offered shareholders $32.68 a share, a 49 percent premium over the share price of $21.88.

Of course, the share value jumped substantially on news of the announcement, with the price settling at about $30. The takeover marks a shift in the company structure that began with the death of founder Craig Dobbin in 2006. "This transaction will mark the beginning of an exciting new phase in CHC's history," CHC CEO Sylvain Allard told reporters.

Sikorsky Unveils 250-Knot Helicopter

Sikorsky Aircraft unveiled its X2 Technology Demonstrator Aircraft Sunday at Heli-Expo in Houston. The counter-rotating coaxial rotor design is aimed at delivering the high-speed cruise while keeping the low-speed handling, hovering and autorotation safety characteristics that operators want. "The X2 Technology Demonstrator is an integrated suite of technologies intended to advance the state-of-the-art, counter-rotating coaxial rotor helicopter," said Sikorsky President Jeffrey Pinot. "As we continue to work to prove out and mature the technologies that will allow the X2 Technology Demonstrator to become a viable product, we are focused on testing its limits and finding out where this technology will take us."

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News Briefs back to top 

Iraq Air Force Cessna Diesel Lands On Florida Road

A U.S. Air Force-owned Cessna 172 outfitted with a diesel engine and wearing Iraqi air force markings landed Thursday on a county road after suffering a power failure. Now for the explanation ... The air force published plans in October 2007 to send 12 Cessna 172s to Kirkuk where the aircraft would serve at the Iraqi Air Force flight training school. This particular aircraft had been taken to Miami to be fitted with the diesel and was then flown to a Tampa paint shop where it won its Iraqi markings, according to Tampa Bay Online. En route at about 4 p.m. from Tampa to Kendall-Tamiami -- where the Air Force would have inspected, dismantled and prepared the aircraft for shipment to Iraq -- the aircraft (and its Iraqi Air Force markings) then made its emergency landing on a rural central Florida highway ... County Road 731. The pilot, who reportedly was unharmed, works for a subcontractor of Cessna and was taken to Sebring Regional Airport, picked up by aircraft, and removed from the area. The aircraft remained to contribute to the developing local public stir as authorities pieced together the rest of the story.

British Cathay Pacific Pilot Fired for Low-Level, High-Speed Fly-By in 777

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A British Cathay Pacific pilot was fired after he did a low-level, high speed flyby at the Boeing plant in Everett, Wash. last month while on a delivery flight of one of the airline's new 777s. As the accompanying video shows, Ian Wilkinson took the aircraft, with company officials on board, within 30 feet of the runway at more than 300 mph. His first officer on the flight Ray Middleton (who got suspended for six months) said the company officials toasted the flight with Wilkinson later and he believes nothing would have come of the whole thing if the video hadn't made it to YouTube. Airline officials said low fly-bys are allowed, but only if the crew asks first, which apparently didn't happen in this case.

On the Fly ...

The Air Force is not releasing any details about the potential cause of the crash of a B-2 bomber at Andersen Air Force Base on Guam Saturday. The aircraft crashed on takeoff and both pilots ejected ...

The flight recorders have been recovered from a Venezuelan airliner that crashed in the Andes last week. All 46 people aboard the ATR 42 died ...

In an oddly ironic publicity event on Sunday, Virgin Atlantic Airlines loaded five people and a tank full of coconut and babassu oil [one of four] aboard a Boeing 747 for 90-minute flight to show that biofuels will work on commercial aircraft. Environmental groups dismissed the flight as irrelevant since even if the whole airline industry ran on obscure oils, the growth in air travel would wipe out any environmental gains within 10 years.

AVweb's Newstips Address ...

Our best stories start with you. If you've heard something that 130,000 pilots might want to know about, tell us. Submit news tips via email to newstips@avweb.com. You're a part of our team ... often, the best part.

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New on AVweb back to top 

The Pilot's Lounge #123: A Special Airplane From Special People

It's a tragedy when a pilot dies. But AVweb's Rick Durden helped turn a tragedy into an amazing gift from a grieving family.

Click here to read Rick Durden's column.

It was late when I got into the Pilot's Lounge at the virtual airport. I'd airlined into the big airport and driven about an hour here, as I wanted to drop off some things in my hangar and then see if I could locate a back issue of a magazine in the Lounge before going on home. The airport was quiet, the pilot-controlled lighting dark, and only the green and white flash of the rotating beacon gave notice to the night sky that there was a safe, earthly refuge here.

I had been gone a week and had spent much of it flying a very special airplane. It had performed nearly perfectly and the weather had been the sort one dreams of here in the gray Great Lakes during the winter. It had been a very busy week and I was tired, existing in autopilot mode, focused on these last couple of errands and then getting home. I found the magazine and, as I went to snap the lights off, I glanced at the bulletin board and saw that there was a folded piece of paper tacked there with my name on it. Opening it, I saw that it was from Everett, owner of the flight school. All it said was, "You missed a good evening, Thursday, but we saved a little for you. Usual spot."

I smiled to myself and walked down the hall to Everett's office. In the upper left storage cabinet I found a small glass with some cling-wrap over the top. Inside was about an inch of a deep, tan liquid. Removing the wrap, I sniffed gently and confirmed it was what I thought it might be: an excellent, single-malt scotch. From time to time Everett gets together with some friends of his to splurge on a little outstanding single malt. I try to contribute and am usually rewarded by having them save my share if I miss a gathering. The sniff had changed my entire orientation and perception of the late evening; the autopilot was off and I went into the "Let's take some time to savor this" mode.

A Week of Joy

I went back into the silent Lounge, thinking it to be the perfect place to appreciate this gift and let the airline-travel-induced-stress flow out of my system. I sat in one of the big, old, threadbare recliners and held the glass between my hands, letting body heat slowly raise the temperature of the nectar. Looking out at the silent ramp, my thoughts gradually returned to the events of the week until I was again in the left seat of an immaculate Cessna 207, high above the desert of southeastern California. I was remembering that moment when the airplane went from being an inanimate object whose speeds, systems and performance I had learned reasonably well, to a living creature of flight with whom I had an understanding, whose behavior I could predict and who flew rather than just barged along through the sky.

Almost every pilot has such a moment with an unfamiliar airplane. After working through the stage of mechanically moving controls and sorting out that "x force in y direction for z duration will generate a roll rate of a certain number of degrees per second or onset a given G-load," there comes an instant when the airplane agrees that the pilot can probably be trusted and so softens and adjusts the seat to the pilot's contours and lets it be known that fingertips are all that are needed on the control wheel. The aircraft telegraphs its intent to move up or down or left or right in the next bump in the air, so that the pilot can catch and correct before anyone else in the airplane even is aware that there is a disturbance. It is a very good feeling.

I had been hoping it would happen with this 207. For a number of reasons, I wasn't sure it would, for not only had its previous owner personalized it in many ways, and not only had that owner flown it completely around the world, but he had died suddenly in the crash of another airplane and this one had been sitting, unflown, for nearly three years. I wondered whether its personality would allow it to accept anyone else.

Devoted Owner and Pilot

This Cessna 207 had been owned by the late Greg Gund. Much of the time he had owned it, he kept it in San Jose, Costa Rica, at one of the more interesting airports on the planet. Pavas exists in a high altitude, sloping bowl among mountains. It is almost constantly blasted by strong winds funneled through a venturi between the Caribbean Sea and the Pacific Ocean, so takeoffs are into the face of much turbulence and rising terrain, and landing approaches seem to last for weeks as the groundspeed hovers near single digits. Greg had fallen under the captivating spell of the natural world of Costa Rica, especially the Osa Peninsula, home to a stunningly high percentage of all the species of life on earth. He had seen what was being done illegally by those who did not care for the beauty of that country and he made use of his airplane to help protect the bounty of the country's natural resources. Having a sense of adventure that would not quit, he also meticulously planned, and then carried out, a flight around the world in the 207.

Tragically, Greg was killed in an accident in the summer of 2005. His Cessna 207 was ferried to northern California, where it was stored in airworthy condition by his family. Over the next few years his family wondered what was the right thing to do with the airplane that had been a part of Greg's passion for life and his work for conservation. In 2007 they approached LightHawk -- an environmental aviation organization whose volunteer pilots have been flying in support of conservation matters throughout the U.S. and Central America for nearly 30 years -- to see if it might be able to make use of Greg's airplane.

LightHawk's response was a hugely enthusiastic "Yes!" For the last 20 years volunteer pilots had been flying LightHawk's Cessna 206 throughout Central America. I had been one of them, often using my vacation time to volunteer for some very intensive flying in Belize or Costa Rica to do everything from the annual manatee count in Belize to tracking Harpy eagles that had been released into the wild to spotting illegal incursions into protected areas of the rain forests of Belize and Costa Rica. LightHawk's volunteer pilots had put thousands of hours on its 206 and LightHawk was facing the reality that the cost to renovate it to get it back to top condition was probably going to exceed the value of the airplane. The idea of having a 207, an even more capable airplane for its work, was enough to get people to start thinking about magic wands and miracles.

Sorting out the vagaries of donating an airplane owned by an estate to a not-for-profit organization was not an easy exercise, but it finally came to fruition on Feb. 4, 2008. Because I had once-upon-a-time flown Cessna 207s, I was lucky enough to be the volunteer pilot for LightHawk who accepted the airplane on the organization's behalf. I was hugely fortunate to meet Greg Gund's parents and his brother, to learn a little more about him, and to be able to express my thanks to them for donating the airplane to LightHawk. They said that it was the best way they could think of for the airplane to continue doing what Greg had started. I could not have agreed more, and suddenly could see the airplane once again at Pavas Airport, and elsewhere in Central America, in the years to come. Dedicated volunteer pilots will fly it over the jungles, coasts, interior highlands and vast savannahs with teams of scientists, researchers or local villagers aboard. Sometimes donations have a very far-reaching impact. LightHawk's now-retired 206 flew thousands of people millions of miles on flights that helped protect immensely valuable natural resources in more than a score of countries; Greg Gund's 207 will do the same thing and more in the years to come.

Back In The Air

I felt the scotch warming between my hands and thought of the week of flying the 207. Once the quiet donation ceremony was over and all of the formalities of the paperwork associated with transferring ownership of an airplane had been completed, I made a flight in the local area to see how happy the 207 would be to return to the sky after nearly three years.

All went as perfectly as a flight can go. The systems were checked and found to each work perfectly. Every light bulb lit on request and the engine ran flawlessly, both rich and lean of peak, with CHTs staying comfortably cool and the engine purring during lean-of-peak operations. I said a silent thank you to Mike McClellan of Reid-Hillview Airport, who had cared for the airplane much of the time Greg Gund had owned it, faithfully kept it ready to fly in the years following his death, and then tweaked everything carefully before it was donated to its new owner.

The rest of the week involved checking out some LightHawk volunteer pilots in various locations as I worked my way to Socorro, N.M., where LightHawk volunteer Jerry Hoogerwerf would also be checked out in the airplane and use his A&P skills to install some final touches before the airplane would go southward.

There were stops in Santa Maria, Chino and Tucson, each with weather so good that I wondered how long I'd have to pay low-ceiling-and-icing dues to compensate once I got home to Michigan. Volunteer pilots with whom I flew and who had long flown LightHawk's 206 marveled at how nearly identical the 207 was in handling and performance, and expressed their wonder at the things that Greg Gund had done to the airplane to make it so very capable.

Sussing Out the Details

I thought back to the first landings I had made that week in the 207 as I went through the formal introduction phase to a new airplane, the airplane and I each on our best behavior. I explored the slow-speed end of the performance envelope, curious as to whether the vortex generators had been installed correctly and how they would affect handling and stall behavior. Together, airplane and I slowed to 50 knots indicated with full flaps and I found that the 207 was utterly solid. Even though we weren't all that far from gross weight, there was still lots of power available in level flight. Turns could be made easily, with fingertip touches, and the longer fuselage of the 207 over the 206 meant that less rudder was needed when making speed and configuration changes than in a 206. Power off, with full flaps, I saw the airspeed needle work its way down to 41 knots indicated before there was the mildest of breaks to announce that the stall had indeed been reached. The 207 was every bit the purebred, stalling straight ahead, not even threatening to drop a wing, and recovering smartly and immediately once back-pressure on the wheel was reduced. Adding power arrested the descent quickly, and going from the full 30 degrees of flaps to 20 meant that we were almost immediately climbing away from terra firma.

I was pleased to see that the vortex generators provided the slow-speed benefits of a STOL kit for the airplane without the associated weight, and I thought of the 1,700-foot runway at Belize City Municipal Airport, where it is a point of pride to be able to land and make the mid-field turnoff without heavy braking. As I explored landings in the 207, I realized that flying short final at 1.3 Vso would mean just over 53 knots. Recognizing that there was some degree of airspeed-indicator error at the 41-knot indicated stall speed I had seen, I decided to try flaring for landing at 60 KIAS, power off. It worked well, meaning that the 207 will be quite happy on short runways. In fact, entering the flare at much over 60 knots generated a significant amount of float down the runway, something to be noted, and the correct speed in the flare to be respected.

I was reminded that the manner in which the nose of the Cessna 206 was stretched in the process of making the 207 meant the top of the cowling of the 207 was higher. Therefore, on landing, the nose completely covered the horizon when raised high enough to keep the nosewheel above the runway as the mains touched. It meant finding the right spot to look prior to touchdown to assure that the airplane was not drifting to one side, as not all runways are 150-feet wide.

Paying Attention to the Countryside

As the week progressed, I had the joy of flying over a part of our country that I had previously only seen from airliners. As the formal stage of the relationship with the 207 evolved into a mutually trusting friendship, I enjoyed seeing many sights new to me. The airplane and I viewed Santa Barbara out off to our right, Palm Springs and Blythe to our left, and the rugged desolation of southern Arizona and New Mexico spread out in all directions.

By the time we reached Socorro, the 207 and I were on a first name basis and I was beginning to comprehend a degree of Greg Gund's affection for this vessel of flight. It had no bad habits at all and it rewarded a pilot's efforts at precision crisply. As we slid down the nighttime final approach to Socorro, we together sensed the left crosswind, lowered the left wing, touched enough right rudder to line up, then flared nose-high and felt the left wheel begin to roll on the runway. Progressively more left yoke let us continue to roll on one wheel for a while before the right main and then the nosewheel settled to the ground and we coasted up the gently sloping runway toward the lighted ramp area. It was a perfect way to end the early days of what I hope is a long relationship.

Sitting back in the big old recliner, the scotch had warmed to near body temperature and I thought again of the Gund family and how I wished I had been able to get to know Greg. I raised the small glass in a toast to Greg and his family and to their generosity that will allow one airplane to benefit the lives of so many. Thank you.

And if you have 1,000 hours as PIC and would like to volunteer for LightHawk and perhaps fly the 207, visit their Web site for more information.

See you next month.

Want to read more from Rick Durden? Check out the rest of his columns.

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Oil Myths Debunked

Lubrication myths, legends and misconceptions still abound in the aviation world.

Click here to read this maintenance article.

The following article is done in a question-and-answer format to cover some of the most common questions and misunderstandings concerning aircraft and lubrication. This represents only but a few of the many questions I am asked about when I meet people and they find out I'm a lubricant formulator.

Why shouldn't I use automotive oil in my airplane to take advantage of the more advanced technology?

While it is true that automotive oil is far more advanced than aviation oil, the answer lies in the fact that most aircraft engines are air-cooled while automotive engines are water-cooled. Air-cooled aircraft engines are built with greater clearances and are designed to consume (burn) some oil.

Water-cooled automotive engines are designed and built to much tighter tolerances, so they do not consume much oil. These differences in design tolerances are due to the large temperature differentials that are found in high-continuous-power-output, air-cooled, aircraft engines versus the low- and intermittent-power-output, water-cooled, auto engines.

There can be a 300 degree F temperature difference between the cylinder head and cylinder base in an operating aircraft engine. That kind of temperature differential causes a lot of distortion in the cylinder, necessitating the requirement for large clearances. Automotive engines, being water-cooled, have lower temperature differentials across the engine and thus suffer lower levels of distortion and can be designed and built to tighter tolerances.

Aircraft engines were designed before additives were available and have not really changed much over the years. When ashless dispersant oils were introduced for auto engines, they were also suitable for aircraft engines and eventually were adopted for aviation use.

However, when zinc antiwear and metallic detergents were formulated into auto oils, an important divergence occurred. Aircraft engines burn a fair amount of oil and, if these metal-containing detergents and antiwear compounds are present, they can form metallic ash deposits in the combustion chambers. These deposits can lead to destructive preignition, which could burn holes in the tops of pistons with obvious catastrophic results. For that reason, it was decided that aviation oils were to remain ashless to avoid the risk of metallic deposits.

The benefit of using ashless dispersant oils is, obviously, a cleaner engine. Aircraft engines would also benefit greatly from the addition of other automotive additives such as anti-wear, detergents, and corrosion inhibitors, but the downside is added cost. Ashless versions of these performance additives can cost up to 10 times more than standard ash-containing additives.

What about oil additives with PTFE (Teflon)?

Additives with Teflon resin should not be used in aircraft engines for three reasons;

  1. When oil is burned in the combustion chamber (remember -- aircraft engines burn some oil), the decomposition products are acidic and are extremely corrosive.
  2. The resin is a solid particle held in suspension. In aircraft oil, these resin particles have been found to quickly drop out of suspension and combine with lead salts from leaded fuel. This leads to the formation of a sticky, heavy sludge. This sludge settles throughout the engine, where it can block oil flow.
  3. There is little evidence to show they provide any wear benefit in piston engines.

Editor's Note: Dupont, the developer and maker of Teflon, specifically says that Teflon is not designed for or to be used in engines and that they in no way endorse its use in this manner.

What about these other "miracle" additives?

Additives like Prolong and Power-Up should never be used in aircraft. They contain chlorinated hydrocarbons and were designed as cutting fluids for metalworking. They work by decomposing to hydrochloric acid and form iron chlorides on steel surfaces.

While that may be fine for one-pass machining, it is not good to have circulating through your engine. In addition, it's necessary to neutralize the excess acid so a large amount of metallic detergent is added, which can cause combustion-chamber deposits. Such deposits can result in preignition and engine damage.

Which is better for rust (corrosion) protection: straight-weight or multi-weight oils?

This is a common and emotionally charged question. Let me start with a description of multi-weight oils.

Multi-weight oils are simply those oils that contain a viscosity modifier (VM) that affects the viscosity profile of the oil with temperature. To produce 20W-50 oil, you start with straight 20-weight oil and dissolve approximately two percent of a solid polymer (the VM) into it.

The VM does not affect the low temperature viscosity of the oil because, when cold, these polymer molecules ball up so tight and small they, in effect, disappear in the oil. As the oil warms, the VM molecules relax and interact with each other.

This interaction impedes flow, which by definition is an increase in viscosity. This essentially means that at 0 degrees C (32 degrees F), the 20W-50 flows like a 20-weight oil and at 100 degrees C (212 degrees F), it has the same viscosity and flows like a 50-weight oil.

In effect, the viscosity modifier reduces the oil's tendency to thin with increasing temperature. All this being said, how does this affect the oil's ability to protect parts from corrosion? The two properties that are important for corrosion resistance are film thickness and additive activity or concentration.

At ASL, we performed a simple experiment to compare the inherent corrosion protection of straight 50-weight versus 20W-50 multi-weight oil. The two oils selected are popular products and neither contained any ferrous-metal rust inhibitors.

Test panels were weighed, then dipped in the two oils heated to 100 C (212 F). They were placed in an oven, which was 100 degrees C (212 degrees F), for 30 minutes. The panels were allowed to cool and film thickness was determined by weight increase. This procedure simulates the oil-film thickness found on cams, lifters and other components in an engine after shutdown and cooling.

It was calculated that the film thickness was under a thousandth of an inch, 0.0008 inches, for both samples. The fact that we measured the same film thickness is not surprising, as both oils are designed to have the same viscosity at the elevated temperature.

When tested for rust protection in a standard, humidity-cabinet test, both samples failed in much less than 24 hours. This test demonstrates that oil film alone, in the thickness range that these oils leave on engine parts, offers very little rust protection.

The next test was done to compare the effectiveness of additives in preventing rust. We used CamGuard, a multifunctional additive package containing rust inhibitors, antiwear and antioxidant chemistries that I developed for aircraft oils.

When five percent of CamGuard was added to the oils, the measured film thickness remained the same but the increase in rust protection was dramatic. Test results show protection for more than 500 hours versus less than 24 hours for the unadditized oil (see graph below).

This demonstrates the relative insignificance of film thickness compared to active inhibitors in providing rust protection in engines.

How frequently should I change oil?

When talking about corrosion in engines, one has to mention oil change intervals. I happen to believe in regular, frequent oil changes.

In the case of aircraft, you know that oil is cheap compared to an early overhaul. For most aircraft, I recommend the oil be changed every 25-35 hours or four times a year. If you fly often and have an oil filter, 50 hours is fine.

The problem is contaminated oil sitting in the crankcase. In as little as five hours of engine run time, there is enough water and other reactive elements in the oil to strongly promote corrosion. That's why a sitting engine needs to have frequent oil changes as well.

CamGuard is FAA accepted and approved for use in all non-turbocharged aircraft. (Turbocharged-engine approval is pending.) If you would like to read more about CamGuard, go to our Web site.

Editor's Note: We at Light Plane Maintenance are not yet endorsing CamGuard, but independent corrosion tests of aviation oils was done by Aviation Consumer magazine and showed very beneficial results from using CamGuard.

More aircraft repair and prevention articles are available in AVweb's Maintenance Index. And for monthly articles about aircraft maintenance, subscribe to AVweb's sister publication, Light Plane Maintenance.


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Your Favorite FBOs back to top 

FBO of the Week: Signature Flight Support (KSNA, Santa Ana, CA)

Nominate an FBO | Rules | Tips | Questions | Winning FBOs

AVweb's "FBO of the Week" ribbon goes to Signature Flight Support at KSNA in Santa Ana, California.

AVweb reader Robert Parker recommended the FBO with one of the finest lines we've read in a while:

[W]hen a family in a Bonanza drops in for a weekend visit to Disneyland and gets treated like a Gulfstream full of celebrities, you know that you've found a good place.

Keep those nominations coming. For complete contest rules, click here.

AVweb is actively seeking out the best FBOs in the country and another one, submitted by you, will be spotlighted here next Monday!

Over 16,000 Happy GAMIjectors® Customers Can't Be Wrong!
GAMIjectors® have given these aircraft owners reduced peak cylinder head temperatures, reduced fuel consumption, and smoother engine operation. GAMIjectors® alter the fuel/air ratio in each cylinder so that each cylinder operates with a much more uniform fuel/air ratio than occurs with any other factory set of injectors. To speak to a GAMI engineer, call (888) FLY-GAMI, or go online for complete engineering details.
AVweb Media: Look, Listen, Laugh and Learn back to top 

Exclusive Video: Dassault Falcon 7X Fly-by-Wire Business Jet

Original, Exclusive Videos from AVweb | Reader-Submitted & Viral Videos

Dassault has introduced a jet that changes the playing field for business jet manufacturers, operators and pilots. That jet is the $40 million Falcon 7X. In this exclusive video, AVweb video editor Glenn Pew takes us inside the Falcon 7X.

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Video of the Week: 'Rockford, We Have a Problem ...' — Recreating an Engine Failure

Recommend a Video | VOTW Archive

Today's "Video of the Week" comes from AVweb readers Scott Ross and Chuck Jansen. After Chuck lost an engine in his Arrow, the two recreated the frightening experience in video, using a flight-simulator and radar screens to show what happened and mixing in audio from the ATC tower and a WIFR interview. The result is a stellar presentation that brough that brought the Rockford, Illinois controller (heard in the video) out to the fellows' local EAA chapter (1414) for a presentation. According to Scott, the video's been a hit with at least two other local chapters, as well!

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Don't forget to send us links to any interesting videos you find out there. If you're impressed by it, there's a good chance other AVweb readers will be too. And if we use a video you recommend on AVweb, we'll send out an official AVweb baseball cap as a "thank you."

Saving Apollo 13: The Inside Story

File Size 19.2 MB / Running Time 21:03

Podcast Index | How to Listen | Subscribe Via RSS

Although the Apollo astronauts got most of the glory, NASA's unsung flight controllers came into their own on Apollo 13, when an oxygen tank exploded and disabled the spacecraft on the way to the moon. Sy Liebergot, a Cal State-trained engineer, was lead EECOM (electrical, environmental, consumables) on that mission and in this detailed podcast, he describes what it was like to ultimately resolve NASA's most challenging moment. Liebergot spoke recently at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach, Florida.

Click here to listen. (19.2 MB, 21:03)

Related Content
Paul Bertorelli blogs about Liebergot

Check Out Our New Blog ...

Be sure to visit our new blog, AVweb Insider, for personal insights and commentary on the aviation industry from our staff of writers and editors. Today, Aviation Group director Paul Bertorelli blogs about his chat with Apollo 13 EECOM Sy Liebergot.
Fly Somewhere! Use AVweb's Calendar of Events
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The Lighter Side of Flight back to top 

Short Final

Today's "Short Final" breaks with tradition a bit by not being heard over the radio — but we couldn't pass up the opportunity to share this tale:

"I was coming back from Tampa in the early evening heading for Craig in my 182. Over Gainesville I came around a large cloud and came face to face with a UFO.

"Black, octagon-shaped with spikes, clearly not of terrestrial origin. I turned toward it. Heart racing, sweating like a pig, I could barely hold her steady. I don't believe in UFOss but there it was. About a mile out, it turns, and I can see the word Goodyear on it's side.

"What I saw in the fading light was the Blimp on end.

"But for a brief moment, I was making history.

"Things are often not what they seem."

Dr. James L. Jones
via e-mail

More AVweb for Your Inbox back to top 

AVwebBiz: AVweb's Business Aviation Newsletter

HAVE YOU SIGNED UP yet for AVweb's NO-COST weekly business aviation newsletter, AVwebBiz? Reporting on breaking news, Business AVflash focuses on the companies, the products and the industry leaders that make headlines in the business aviation industry. Business AVflash is a must read. Sign up today at http://www.avweb.com/profile/.

Names Behind the News back to top 

Meet the AVwebFlash Team

AVwebFlash is a weekly summary of the latest news, articles, products, features, and events featured on AVweb, the internet's aviation magazine and news service.

The AVwebFlash team is:

Timothy Cole

Editorial Director, Aviation Publications
Paul Bertorelli

Russ Niles

Managing Editor
Meredith Saini

Contributing Editors
Mary Grady
Glenn Pew

Features Editor
Kevin Lane-Cummings

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