AVwebFlash - Volume 13, Number 15a

April 9, 2007

By The AVweb Editorial Staff
 
Thousands of Classifieds, Updated Daily
With thousands of daily updated Classifieds, a Product & Advertiser Index, Forums, NAAA Evaluator, Performance Database, Spec Sheets, and Aviation Weather, Trade-A-Plane gives you everything that keeps you flying. Order your subscription by calling (800) 337-5263, or go online.

» Visit Trade-A-Plane in booths A-001-003 at Sun 'n Fun
 
Top News back to top 
 

Another Diamond In The Sky

Diamond Aircraft celebrated the first flight of its DA50 Super Star on Wednesday from the manufacturer's headquarters in Wiener Neustadt, Austria, but the jaunt was only 15 minutes due to poor weather conditions, according to company CEO and owner Christian Dries. The five-place single-engine airplane took off at an mtow of 3,670 pounds with Dries and director of sales/chief pilot Soeren Pedersen at the controls. While the maiden flight was cut short, the pair logged two more hours in the all-composite airplane on the next day when weather was more cooperative, allowing for a more comprehensive shake out of the initial DA50. Dries told AVweb that on Thursday the Super Star's 350-hp, FADEC-controlled, turbocharged Teledyne Continental TSIOF-550J engine systems were checked out and the fixed-gear airplane was also taken to 10,000 feet. Diamond brought the airplane from the drawing board to the skies in only 11 months, which Dries attributes to lead engineer Manfred Zipper and his team. The first DA50 has officially been handed over to Diamond's flight test department, which will further expand the aircraft's envelope. According to Dries, preliminary data shows that the Super Star will cruise at 180 knots at 8,000 feet with 68-percent power. The airplane will be equipped with TKS anti-icing, a variable-pitch hot prop and a three-screen Garmin G1000 avionics system. Optional 170- to 300-hp diesel engines will also be available for the DA50, Dries said. Diamond expects to start DA50 production in January, but those going to Aero 2007 in Friedrichshafen, Germany, this month will be able to get a first look at the airplane.

Martha King Dunked In Ultralight

Flight-training icon Martha King might have learned a thing or two about ultralights Wednesday when the aircraft she was aboard flipped over into Shasta Lake in northern California. King, 61, and pilot Dennis Chitwood, 54, were wet but virtually uninjured in the mishap, which occurred near Lakehead, Calif. According to the Redding Record Searchlight, King bruised a wrist but declined medical attention. Sheriff’s Deputy Gary Van Dyne told the newspaper that wind knocked the aircraft out of control and it ended up upside down in the lake. Witness Victor Patton watched the plane hit the water. "Something snapped … and the nose [of the plane] went 'boom' into the water," he said. The NTSB has not yet issued a preliminary report on the accident.

Cessna Mustangs Still In Starting Gate

Cessna says it hopes to resume deliveries of its Mustang entry-level jet soon after the schedule was stalled by a software glitch in the airplane's Garmin G1000 avionics suite. Cessna spokeswoman Pia Bergqvist told The Wichita Eagle the problem was discovered shortly after the first delivery of a Mustang (a company demo plane) last November and there haven’t been any customer deliveries. "It's just a minor software glitch that they had to correct," Bergqvist said. "It's already been fixed," she noted. Bergqvist did not specify the nature of the problem. While the glitch stalled deliveries, it didn’t halt production. “We’re pumping out airplanes like there’s no tomorrow,” she said, adding that the company still expects to deliver the 40 Mustangs it has scheduled for 2007. Meanwhile, the first class of future Mustang pilots has begun the 10-day type-rating course at FlightSafety International in Wichita.

 
Garmin StreetPilot c330 Auto GPS Special — $259.99
GPS World Supply has a deal you won't want to miss! The Garmin newly overhauled units are color, touch-screen, turn-by-turn with voice and preloaded detailed street maps for the U.S. and Canada. One Year Warranty! Call (800) 906-6600, or order securely 24/7 online.

         Limited quantity. First come, first served!

 
News Briefs back to top 
 

User Fee Proposal Dead?

Rep. Todd Tiahrt, R-Kan., is close to declaring the FAA’s proposal to impose user fees on general aviation dead. "I think we’ve finally gotten the stake out and are about to drive it through user fees," he told The Wichita Eagle's editorial board last week. Tiahrt told the Eagle brass that he’s made fighting the funding proposal his top priority and enlisted the support of other members of Congress to defeat the plan. On the Eagle's editorial board's blog, Tiahrt’s tenacity was applauded but it appears that not everyone in aviation-centric Wichita thinks user fees are a bad idea. "I have my 'stunned disbelief' hat on today," wrote one respondent to the blog. "I'm stunned that Tiahrt's top priority is a user fee for wealthy people." Others mentioned that there are some other issues in front of Congress (wars, famine, pestilence, that sort of thing) that might be more deserving of Tiahrt’s less divided attention, while others pointed out that "user fees" exist for everything from boat launches to freeways.

Landing Fees Imposed At Montreal Airports

Flying to Montreal gets more expensive on June 1 but it’s not just pilots in La Belle Province who should be concerned, according to a Quebec aviation leader. Michel Charette, former vice president of Aviateurs et pilotes de brousse du Québec (Quebec Aviators and Bush Pilots Association), told AVweb that despite lobbying by his group and the Canadian Owners and Pilots Association (COPA), ADM, the administrator of Montreal’s airports, is slapping a $35 one-time landing fee ($1,000 for a yearly pass) on general aviation aircraft using the downtown Trudeau International Airport (Dorval) and a $15 fee ($400 annually) at Mirabel, about 30 miles from the city. The goal, says Charette, is to discourage GA traffic, but it’s destined to be a nuisance for trans-border traffic headed to the Montreal area. “Pierre-Elliott Trudeau Airport (Dorval) is a major stop for customs clearing upon returning from a flight into U.S. or for incoming general aviation traffic from the U.S., especially during the evening and at night,” he wrote. Customs service is available at nearby St. Hubert from 8:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. on weekdays only, and there’s already a $10 landing fee in place there. Charette said the new fees will also hurt already-struggling FBOs and flight schools at the Montreal airports. It also seems likely that it will annoy the various aircraft manufacturers that have set up shop at Mirabel. COPA and the APBQ are preparing a protest campaign to try to stop the fees.

 
New Term Rates Available from Pilot Insurance Center
Private pilots that expect to fly less than 200 annual hours and have 100 or more solo hours — or who expect to fly 201-300 annual hours and have 400 or more solo hours — may qualify for new lower rates from the Pilot Insurance Center (PIC). PIC specializes in providing pilots — from student to ATP — with the life insurance protection they need. A+ RATED CARRIERS — NO AVIATION EXCLUSIONS — Quick and Easy Application Process. Get a Quote from PIC by calling 1-800-380-8376 or visit online.
 
News Briefs back to top 
 

Space Weather Threatens GPS

As if we didn’t have enough weather to worry about here on Earth, scientists have confirmed what has long been anecdotally acknowledged -- that solar flares play havoc with GPS signals. And with the FAA moving steadily toward satellite-based technologies for the future of airspace management, the warnings from last week’s Space Weather Enterprise Forum take on increasing poignancy. “Society cannot become overly reliant on technology without an awareness and understanding of the effects of future space weather disruptions,'' Anthea Coster, Ph.D., MIT Haystack Observatory, told attendees at the conference, which was held in Washington, D.C. There is some good news, however. It appears WAAS signals, the cornerstone of most of the new navigation protocols, are somewhat less vulnerable to disruption. The scientists got a good look at the potential for disruption courtesy of massive, and unexpected, solar flares that occurred on Dec. 6, 2006. When a solar flare erupts, it throws out tremendous radio wave energy over a wide range of frequencies, and the December occurrence was enough to swamp GPS receivers over the entire sunlit side of Earth, noted Dale Gary, Ph.D., chair and professor of the physics department at New Jersey Institute of Technology. The December flare was an anomaly because sunspot activity is on an 11-year cycle and we’re at the lowest ebb of it now. Scientists predict the next peak in solar activity, in about six years, to be one of the strongest ever.

Guard Wants Low-Level Range In New England

Opposition is mounting to a Massachusetts Air National Guard plan to conduct low-level (500 feet minimum) training over a 3,600-square-nautical-mile area of northwestern Maine and a sliver of eastern New Hampshire known as the Western Mountains. The sparsely populated resort area is already a military range, but only a small section is used for low-level flights. According to The Original Irregular (the real name of the newspaper in Kingsfield, Maine) the Guard claims buzzing the treetops in F-16s and F-15s shouldn’t really bother anyone. “The Proposed Action would have the potential to affect airspace management, biological resources, and safety, but would have no significant impacts on these resources,” the paper quotes the Guard’s draft environmental assessment as saying. Others aren’t so sure and are worried about wildlife, air quality and the undeniable impact of a fighter suddenly screaming overhead. AOPA is also involved, asking for, and getting, more time to study the impact on airspace. The comment period on the environmental assessment was to have ended, but AOPA has asked the Guard to extend that by 30 days so it and others can properly assess the plan. The Guard agreed and the new comment deadline is May 14. Meanwhile, a grassroots movement is afoot in the hills of Maine. Rather than try to scoop each other with this story, little newspapers like The Original Irregular are alerting each other about it in an effort to spread the word.

 
Columbia Introduces 2007 Models
The 2007 Columbias have arrived. Fresh for this year are new, dynamic paint schemes for both the Columbia 350 and 400, as well as a host of thoughtful and unique features for the discerning aircraft owner. See how your new Columbia will look with the interactive online Paint Selector. Just go online and click on the "Paint Your Passion" icon.

» Visit Columbia Aircraft Manufacturing in booths MD-020B-021C at Sun 'n Fun
 
News Briefs back to top 
 

Vietnamese Homebuilders Close To First Flight

Vietnam’s (future) flying farmers, Tran Quoc Hai and Le Van Danh, passed a critical step in their bid to become the country’s first homegrown aviators last week when government inspectors appear to have given their backyard-built helicopter a passing grade. “Specifically, within 30 minutes, the engine operated in a stable manner, the propeller ran at 180 circles per minute and other indexes met standards,” the VietNamNet Bridge reported. “Particularly, the aircraft met the standards for anti-shake on the ground, which was the biggest challenge in the testing period.” Ministry of Defense inspectors will be looking at the aircraft over the next couple of weeks and, if it passes muster, it will be granted a license to (hopefully) fly. The pair hopes their dogged determination in pursuing their dream will encourage and facilitate others interested in aviation. They also acknowledged that the personal interest and support of Vietnam’s Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung went a long way in getting them this far.

Garuda Airliner Landed At 230 Knots

Crash investigators in Indonesia say the Garuda Airlines Boeing 737-400 that overran a runway, resulting in 21 deaths on March 7, was going about 230 knots when it touched down, close to double the normal landing speed. The airliner caught fire after running off the end of Yogyakarta Airport's runway, but 119 people, including the flight crew, survived. According to the Australia Herald Sun, the report, which it says Indonesian officials are trying to suppress, conflicts sharply with the claims of the crew, Captain Marwoto Komar and his copilot Gagam Rohman, who could be facing charges. The Herald Sun said the crew indicated they had problems with a thrust reverser before taking off, but the flight data recorder so far shows no mechanical faults with the plane. Komar also said the plane was hit by a downdraft, but winds were calm at the time of the accident, according to the newspaper. There were earlier reports that the two pilots argued over flap settings and whether to go around, but those claims have been denied by a top investigator.

 
New from Aeromedix! Doug Ritter RSK Mk3™ Fixed-Blade Survival/Utility Knife
The Doug Ritter RSK Mk3™ Knife is Doug Ritter's first fixed-blade design to reach production. A direct descendant of the RSK Mk1™ folder knife, the RSK Mk3™ is a medium-sized lightweight fixed-blade with premium steel. The 4.5-inch (11.43 cm) CPM S30V blade is a bit over an inch longer than the full-size RSK Mk1™ folder. For complete details, go online.
 
News Briefs back to top 
 

Five Aircraft, One Pilot

The British military is testing a system that would, essentially, allow a pilot to command his own pilotless wingmates. The system, developed by QinetiQ with funding from the British Ministry of Defense, enables the pilot of a fighter jet to simultaneously control up to four unmanned companion aerial vehicles. According to Technology News, it was tested for the first time last week with the pilot of a Tornado fighter also influencing the movements of a BAC 111, filling in for a UAV, and three simulated UAVs. Despite the absence of actual UAVs in the test, the government called the test a success and said the Tornado pilot was able to lead his simulated backup on a simulated ground attack. Now, handling one aircraft in a hostile environment is usually more than enough for a fighter pilot, so much of the deployment of the four UAVs is controlled autonomously by the drones themselves. The (simulated) UAVs have the ability to “self-organize, communicate, sense their environment, including possible enemies, and target their weapons,” according to the report. However, the aerial robots can’t actually pull the trigger themselves and it’s up to the fighter pilot to make that call. But don’t look for this kind of capability over the battlefield anytime soon. “There remains a great deal of work to be done before a system like this could be considered for operations, but the trials represent an important step in proving that complex autonomy technologies are ready to move from a simulated world to realistic flight conditions," QinetiQ spokesman Tony Wall told Technology News.

China Releases Images Of Future "Jumbo" Jet

If the images portrayed by China’s Xinhua news agency are accurate, China’s jetliner for the 21st century looks suspiciously like a Russian military transport from the 1970s. The high-wing, high-tailed creation, with its multiple banks of landing gear trucks clustered under the fuselage, looks like the big Antonovs that still toil as chartered military cargo aircraft. It looks nothing like the sleek shape of the Boeing 787 that many consider the technology driver of the next generation of commercial airliners. Still, China seems pretty excited about its chances in the world market. "China's jumbo aircraft will initially target the domestic market. But the ultimate aim is to compete with Boeing and Airbus on the international market," said Jin Qiansheng, deputy director of the administrative committee of Xi'an Yanliang State Aviation High-tech Industry Base. According to Xinhua, China considers an aircraft to be in the “jumbo” category if it can carry 150 passengers and has a gross weight of more than 200,000 pounds. There have been no details released on the size of the Chinese jet, but Xinhua did say that cargo and passenger versions are planned. The news service says it will take at least 10 years to develop the aircraft. Meanwhile, final assembly has begun on the first ARJ-21 regional jet and its first flight is expected next March.

 
Find Your Next Aircraft on ASO!
When you search for aircraft on ASO, you get the most complete picture of the market available anywhere. View thousands of listings with detailed specs and photos or use ASO's advanced search tools to quickly find your next aircraft. Best of all, know that every ad is current and no time is wasted on stale listings. If you're ready for your next aircraft, it's ready for you — on ASO. Visit ASO today!
 
News In Brief back to top 
 

On The Fly

Charles Simonyi became the fifth space tourist Saturday after a successful launch from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. Simonyi will spend 13 days on the International Space Station, courtesy of Space Adventures…

AOPA has assembled a Web page with information on flying to Sun n' Fun. The annual kickoff to the air show season begins in just over a week in Lakeland, Fla…

Despite a general decline in the number of pilots, membership in AOPA is climbing. The organization says membership reached a record 411,187…

EAA Founder Paul Poberezny will be featured on Wings To Adventure. The program will run April 14 at 7 p.m. and again at 9 p.m. on the Outdoor Channel.

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.

AVwebBiz: AVweb's Business Aviation Newsletter

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

 
Tired of the High Cost of Fuel? GAMIjectors Are the Answer!
Don't be grounded by sky-high gas prices. Install GAMIjectors, and you could see up to a 20% cut in your aircraft's fuel bill. Balanced fuel/air ratios make your aircraft's engine run smoother, cooler, and more efficiently. Call 888-FLY-GAMI, or order a kit online for your Continental or Lycoming engine.

» Visit General Aviation Modifications, Inc. (GAMI) in booth A-065 at Sun 'n Fun
 
New On AVweb back to top 
 

CEO of the Cockpit #69: Size Matters

Even in big airliners there's no room for decent-sized bathrooms, comfortable seats, or even flight-bag storage areas. Doesn't help that we're all getting bigger.

Click here for the full story.

and the fuel dump panel for their brain bags. When I engineered on the DC-8 and L-1011 there was lots of butt space for me but I almost destroyed my flight kit getting it into its spot. In every single airliner I've been an engineer on, the best way to get your bag to fit is to give it a well-placed, swift kick.

"Flight attendant butt size has picked up considerably in recent years," said Sid. "Say, do you know how to get a senior flight attendant into the cockpit?"

No ...

"Grease up her hips and put a Twinkee on top of the throttles!"

I had heard that one before, but gave Sid a courtesy chuckle and followed up with another tried-and-true joke.

Do you know what is long and hangs loosely in front of a butt?

"No, what?"

A pilot's tie!

Riding The Storm Out

That was the end of the jokes, at least for a while. We were zipping through Flight Level 280 on our way to 370 and suddenly it got bumpy, requiring this captain to exert himself. I reached up and turned the seatbelt sign on. This, of course, triggered the expected call from the back.

"Hey, should we stay up or sit down? We've got the carts out."

I told Beverly, our senior momma, that they could serve at their discretion; it should smooth out soon. That, of course, is the major pilot cop-out of the century. If I told her outright to stay up serving and one of them got hurt, I'm sort-of to blame. If I sit them down, the passengers complain that they didn't get the bag of peanuts they expected. Telling them it is at their discretion puts the onus on them. Of course, if any of them get hurt it is my responsibility. Also, I never, ever, want to hurt one of my crew.

Bigger planes, in my experience, ride turbulence better than itty-bitty ones. That may just be my prejudice talking. I've always been more comfortable in big planes. That is probably why I started being interested in the airlines. Back during my early days I just couldn't imagine landing something as huge as a 727 or DC-9. Now they seem to be light aircraft.

Boeing 727s tend to bounce up and down in turbulence. DC-8s, 767s and 777s always seem to bounce from side to side. This made sense when I was on the DC-8. After all, those four big wing-mounted engines were swinging back and forth. You could actually see their oil pressures on the gauges going up and down as they swung.

Flash! The CEO Has A Friend ...

[IMGCAP(3)]

Smaller airplanes are probably actually safer in bad bumps. My friend's Piper Meridian that I got to fly last week rode turbulence in a more sharp manner than a big transport, but with its strong wing and higher g-loading margins, I imagine it is probably safer from structural failure in a bad situation.

In all the turbulent situations I've ever been in, both airline and general aviation, I've never had a piece of the airplane fall off or get bent. Also, you never hear of mid-air breakups of airliners in extreme turbulence, only injured and killed flight attendants and passengers.

One great advantage to flying big planes is that they have real bathrooms. I got up and went though the usual super-secret security protocol to go wee-wee on my own airplane. Once approved, I stepped through the "door of doom" and with Beverly literally "watching my six" by guarding my bathroom door, I did my thing. Since I had the seatbelt sign on, there was no line.

Spacious Living Quarters -- Tiny Bathrooms

Most lavs on most airliners aren't the biggest rooms on the boat, if you catch my drift. Bigger bathrooms mean more cleaning and less available space to sell as seats or cargo room. Most guys can lean their head on the ceiling and wall to do number one. Don't be the person who does number two on my airplane. Please, we told you to go before we left.

Large or small matters quite a bit to flight deck crews because it is a big factor in how much they are going to get paid. Most airlines pay their pilots based on formula that is some sort of funky combination of gross weight, speed, passenger or cargo load and the phase of the moon. The intent being to compensate based on productivity.

I'm sure that airline managements will want to change that formula when the Airbus A380 hits regular service with its predicted 555-seat capacity. Suddenly, I bet they will want to go to a pay rate based on something else.

Sid said, "The whole thing is back-assward, if you ask me, when it comes to the big Airbus. How can you find over five hundred people that want to go the same place at the same time? The real dilemma is that most airliners are now very small, not very big. This means that an average passenger going to Europe will board a 50-seat RJ somewhere in Middle America and fly two or three hours crammed into a sewer pipe with no head room so they can get to Kennedy and board a plane bigger than the Titanic."

Hello, Triple-A? I Need a Triptic to the Bathroom ...

[IMGCAP(4)]

That's right. They'll go from seeing every single passenger on their plane at one time to needing a map to find a place to pee on the next airplane. I'm sure that Airbus has great plans for getting everybody on board and later off-loaded, but the gatehouses are going to be mob scenes.

Another weird thing is that the smaller the airlines have become, the larger their instrument displays have been. A DC-9 had very small flight instruments in the panel. An RJ has enormous TV screens.

Because I am an aging captain with fading eyesight, the bigger the CRT the more I like it. The 777 had extremely big screens and on bumpy, dark nights I really appreciated them when I was trying to keep the greasy side down.

I imagine if they up the pilot retirement age to 65 they are going to have to go the big-screen plasma route to keep things safe.

Bigger Pilots, Too

"Even the light sport aircraft and ultra-light crowd are going bigger," Sid added. "Most light sport manufacturers offer "super-sized" pilot seats in their planes to accommodate our larger arses.

Well, useful load is still useful load. Any LSE I am likely to fly will probably only be able to carry about a gallon of fuel if I hop in with a normal-sized passenger.

It is a brave new world out there in pilot land. Planes are either itty-bitty or super-sized. Our behinds are growing, flight attendants are bulking up, instruments are becoming as big as train-station clocks and most passengers ride the skies in mini-jets instead of comfortable, normal-size birds like the 737 or MD-88.

Size does matter and the middle ground we used to enjoy in the airline world is gone forever.



Want to read more from AVweb's CEO of the Cockpit? Check out the rest of his columns.

-->

Replacing Ancient Avionics

If you're flying a nav/comm museum, it may be time to stop pouring money into older boxes. Here are guidelines on what's serviceable and what's not.

Click here for the full story.

fixing, some aren't.

The Bendix/King KN64, KN62 and KN63 series lead the pack of desirable DMEs. These are current-production units that require little real estate in a crowded panel. The KN62A is a higher-powered model of the KN64 and in most airplanes the KN64 works fine unless you're rocketing along at near-mach speeds, in which case you'll need the high-powered KN62A for reliable lock-on.

Overall, these units are reliable and readily repairable by most shops. But like anything else, a shop visit can cost several hundred dollars. Gas discharge displays cost several hundred dollars, as do photo-cell replacements, all considered routine maintenance for Silver Crown gear. Similar in physical design to the KN64 is the Narco DME890. This is a flat-pack DME with a good reputation for reliability. As with most Narco products, factory repairs are often the only solution and repair costs reflect this service. If you have a DME890 and it works, we don't see any reason to give it up unless it has a major failure. Weak receiver problems -- the classic symptom of poor range -- could be the result of faulty solder connections at the diode network in the receiver section. A few hours on the bench could be worth it, but no more, in our view.

The KN63 is the flagship Bendix/King DME, using a remote receiver/transmitter and small, digital, control head. It has proven to be reliable but pricey to install. The KN62 through the KN64 series are liberal when interfacing with modern navigators like Garmin's GNS530/430 series, providing remote serial channeling. Heavy old clunkers like the KN65 series and Narco DME195 units are boat anchors. If they stop working -- and most already have -- we say remove them and expect sizeable gains in useful load.

Nav/Comms

[IMGCAP(3)]

Nav and com equipment are must-have essentials and there's little tolerance for poor performers. The small-airplane nav management system craze raises a common question among owners: What units are worthy of a secondary back-up to a new GNS430 or GNS480?

Our top choice is the Bendix/King KX155. While there are many flavors and vintages, most are worth the cost and effort to repair. Earlier generation KX155 and KX165s used socket-mounted ICs that were responsible for channeling and display-related problems, but later models use more robust surface-mount technology. The flip side of this, however, is that little in the way of small component replacement is possible. This drives up the repair costs since many repairs will be board-out, board-in affairs. A trip to the Honeywell factory could yield a hefty repair bill so you might question your shop as to which is more cost effective, an exchange or repair. If you're among the unlucky few to have a unit with a missing data identification tag, the radio is unworthy of factory service. Period.

It's tempting to retain the ancient KX170B. But in general, these are marginal back-up radios. Although they work well and require minimum upkeep, major repairs are ill-advised. How many electronics in your home are 30 years old? That's about the age of some KX170Bs.

Digital Narco MK12Ds can require hefty factory-repair costs. Common problems include faulty display assemblies, nav converter failures (many hundreds of dollars) to failure of meter assemblies in the ID824 and ID825 indicators, at over $1000. With complaints about Narco factory repair practices, many owners think twice about spending money on Narco radios. That's unfortunate, for these are high-quality boxes.

Narco Com810 and Com811 comm radios are basically MK12Ds without the nav functions and we think they serve as good secondary radios. The same is true of the King KY196 and KY197, although these radios have a long list of published service mods to address receiver, squelch and transmit problems. If you have either and have trouble, we think they merit little more than $100 worth of repair. While self-contained Narco NAV121 and Nav122 nav units pack a big punch in a 3-inch instrument hole, they'll likely put a big hole in your bank account if they fail. Narco makes a version of this popular radio and if space issues force you to keep this design, consider an upgrade if you absolutely must, rather than spending money to replace meter assemblies in an older Nav122.

The King KNS80 and KNS81 nav units often accompany the KY196/197 standalone coms in many late 1980 airframes and while the KNS80 can be a decent albeit primitive nav system, it takes a good chunk of panel space. These RNAVs are a dime a dozen on the used market, having been displaced by Garmin mapcoms. If you have a good one, we don't see why you shouldn't keep it, at least for the short term. But if it breaks, mull it over and think hard before throwing money at fixing it.

How about digital replacement radios like the TKM MX300 (for Cessna radio replacement) and MX170 for KX170-series replacement? Factory repair costs for these units at the TKM factory in Scottsdale are reasonable but the FAA recently forced the company to obtain repair-station status, despite their long-time manufacturer certification. We wonder if the extra paperwork will increase repair costs. These sell for under $2000 new so any repair over $500 may not be worth it. We aren't fans of direct, slide-in replacement radios, as the health of the wiring and installation hardware is as important as the radio itself.

Collins MicroLine VHF and VIR series comms and navs are no longer supported by S-TEC/Meggitt, although the factory will ship service parts to their dealer networks. If repairs will exceed anything more than display segment replacements, a newer radio might be a better choice. Last, any radio that sports 360 channels has lived its last. Ditch one if it breaks. The 14-volt RT328 series ARC radios run a close second, with synthesizer failures qualifying the radio for the trash. A 28-volt digital RT385 unit might be worthy of repair if it can be accomplished for under $300. But that won't fix much.

HSIs and Autopilots

[IMGCAP(4)]

Unless your HSI is from the dawn of the steam age, you probably won't relish replacing it once you see what new ones cost. HSIs are pricey, otherwise they would be standard in every airplane. It doesn't seem to matter which model you have, all will cost a bundle when they break. As we reported in the January 2005 issue of Aviation Consumer, the vacuum-driven and self-contained Century NSD360A has an average overhaul cost of $2700, not including removal and reinstallation. Other HSI systems such as the Bendix/King KCS55A, have numerous remote components and, of course, the mechanical KI525 HSI itself. This system is worth repairing and you should expect to do so at a premium price; it's a keeper.

Collins PN101 systems are still in service and repairs are usually prudent. But systems such as the Narco HSI 100, an old, self-contained electrical unit, is no longer practically repairable. We don't suggest any repair attempts to this unit, or the even older DGO series of HSIs. They retired years ago. Similar advice applies to older Bendix HSIs, the IN831 series. The major instrument shops won't overhaul this unit but some work them at a by-the-hour rate for repairs based on specific problem.

Autopilot repairs can quickly escalate beyond reason and because you can have a new, dual-axis, S-TEC system installed for about $10,000, the decision to repair an older system is relatively straightforward. Cessna, Piper and Century systems are showing their age and while gyro replacement can solve many autopilot problems, establish a limit on how much you'll spend. One shop told us that they tell customers that repair work for out-of-production autopilots shouldn't exceed $3000, based on the long list of available S-TEC replacements.

We agree that anything over this amount might be better spent on a modern system that can add to the overall value and utility of the airplane. The most expensive part of autopilot work seems to lie in the servos. It's not uncommon for a single servo replacement to cost nearly $2000. Replacements for some Century models just aren't available and for those, factory repair attempts are the only option.

Older Bendix/King systems such as the KFC200 use remote computers and earlier versions of the KC295 flight computer aren't worthy of repair due to internal parts that have exceeded their useful life. The Honeywell Flight Control support staff tells us that it would be impossible to make some of these older computers perform to new specs and repairs to some early models are just uneconomical. This isn't to say that KFC200s in general aren't worth repairing; they're fine autopilots. But you'll need the guidance of a seasoned shop if you need to fix one. The general health of a system can usually be determined by its performance in flight and through a couple of hours of troubleshooting by a savvy shop that knows your model of airplane.

It's impossible to comment on every type of avionics still in service. But more of what's out there is very old than very new. If a shop doesn't want to fix an older box, it's often because they know the owner will come back with the same box broken again. Think about that if you decide to push for a repair when replacement is an affordable option.



More articles about avionics are found in AVweb's Avionics section. And for monthly articles and reviews of aviation products, subscribe to AVweb's sister publication, Aviation Consumer.

-->

AVmail: Apr. 9, 2007

Reader mail this week about FSS closures, medical application fraud and Tuskegee Airmen and much more about user fees.

Click here for the full story.

 
Kevin Garrison's New Book Now Available!
Clear Left, I'll Have the Chicken (An Airline Captain Looks at Life) is a collection of columns, humor pieces, satires, piloting advice, and memories from 26 years of airline flying. Now available online.
 
AVweb Audio News -- Are You Listening? back to top 
 

AVweb Audio News

AVweb posts audio news on Mondays, plus a new in-depth interview each Friday. In last Friday's podcast, you'll find part one of an interview with AOPA's Andrew Cebula on aviation user fees. And AVweb's podcast index includes interviews with Hawker Beechcraft's Avfuel's Craig Sincock; Comp Air's Ron Lueck; Expedition Aircraft's Jim Schuster; VistaNav's Jeff Simon; Andrew Hamblin; Eclipse Aviation's Vern Raburn; NBAA's Ed Bolen; Open Air's Michael Klein; Air Excursions' Cable Wells; Stephen Brown; NATCA's Paul Rinaldi; AOPA's Kathleen Vascouselos; Maule Air's Mikel Boorom; Professsional Aviation Maintenance Association president Brian Finnegan; and aviation forecaster Richard Aboulafia. In today's special podcast, hear part two of AOPA's Andrew Cebula discussion with AVweb about aviation user fees. Remember: In AVweb's podcasts, you'll hear things you won't find anywhere else.

 
Featured AVweb Classified Ad: 1957 Cessna 172
1957 Cessna 172 with 3821 TT, 970SM, IFR GPS-155, electric AI, Dual G/S, new instruments, 2nd AI, Control Vision XM weather, recent paint/interior, Horton STOL, NDH, 10/8.
For contact information regarding this ad, to view more ads, and to post your no-cost ad, click here.
 
FBO Of The Week back to top 
 

FBO Of The Week: Dillon Flying Service

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

AVweb's "FBO of the Week" ribbon goes to Dillon Flying Service at KDLN in Dillon, Mont.

AVweb reader Benjamin Marsh liked the service so much at the FBO that he dreams of going back.

"Dennis and Jean, the owners, offer extremely personable service and genuinely care about their customers. Dennis, a high-time tailwheel pilot, welcomes everyone from cub pilots to jet jockey's at the FBO. Dillon's does get trainsient traffic; however, most is recreational due to its world-famous fishing and hunting. Yet prices are extremely low unlike other recreational airports. The FBO even offers a beautiful C172 for rental at only $82/hour wet. Overall, this FBO is a dream come true for any fisherman planning a trip this summer to the Beaverhead, Big Hole, Ruby or Madison Rivers, but still wants to stick to his budget. I can only dream of a flight back to Dillon."

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!

 
The AVweb Bookstore, The Most Complete Aviation Bookstore Anywhere
Over 400 titles representing 52 publishers are in stock and ready for immediate delivery — as books, videos, or CDs. 100+ titles available instantly as fully searchable e-Book downloads. Whether you are a pilot, an A&P technician, or a kit airplane builder, if it's worth reading, it's available from the AVweb Bookstore. Click here to visit online.
 
Video Of The Week back to top 
 

Video of the Week: Sean Tucker Aerobatics to the Music of Steve Morse

Recommend a Video | VOTW Archive

CFII (and AVweb reader) Nate Weinsaft tells us he's "a huge fan of Sean D. Tucker and the musician Steve Morse ... [who] recently purchased a Mac." We won't speculate on how long it took to match up Tucker's aerobatic feats to the swells and valleys of "Air on a 6 String," but it was long enough to earn Nate's video a spot as today's AVweb "Video of the Week." (For those who will ask, here's a link to buy the album. You're on your own when it comes to buying the Macintosh.)


Don't see a video screen?
Try disabling ad blockers and refreshing this page.
If that doesn't work, click here to download the video directly.

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."

 
Aviation Consumer — The Only Magazine with the Guts to Tell You the Truth about the gear you buy and the planes you fly. Aviation Consumer is packed with in-depth and uncompromising ratings of equipment, avionics, accessories, mods, services, aircraft, and much more. Order online and receive unlimited access to Aviation Consumer's ratings-packed web information database!
 
The Lighter Side Of Flight back to top 
 

Short Final

Overheard in IFR Magazine's 'On the Air' Section
Overheard in IFR Magazine's "On the Air"

I heard this somewhere out East while in the clag and trying to find an approach plate:

Piper: Center, Lance Six Two Eight One November, with you at 7,000 feet.

Center (sounding tired): Lance, Six Two Eight One November, roger. But two things: first you don't need to say "feet" because that's understood. And more importantly, you aren't "with me." I know everybody in this radar room, and you aren't here.

 
Names Behind The News back to top 
 

Meet the AVwebFlash Team

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

Today's issue was written by Contributing Editor Russ Niles (bio) and Editor In Chief Chad Trautvetter.

Click here to send a letter to the editor. (Please let us know if your letter is not intended for publication.)

Comments or questions about the news should be sent here.

Have a product or service to advertise on AVweb? A question on marketing? Send it to AVweb's sales team.

If you're having trouble reading this newsletter in its HTML-rich format (or if you'd prefer a lighter, simpler format for your PDA or handheld device), there's also a text-only version of AVwebFlash. For complete instructions on making the switch, click here.

Aviate, navigate, communicate.