AVwebFlash - Volume 13, Number 39a

September 24, 2007

By The AVweb Editorial Staff
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NBAA 2007 Kick-Off in Atlanta back to top 

NBAA 2007 Launches in Atlanta

The business aircraft market has never been hotter, but that doesn't mean everything is perfect. As the National Business Aviation Convention rolls into the Georgia World Congress Center in Atlanta on Tuesday, NBAA and its allies in general aviation remain embroiled in a political battle in Washington that could fundamentally change the way general aviation operates in the U.S. While there have been some encouraging signs about the future funding of the FAA, the battle over user fees is far from over, judging by the banners outside the convention center. And could a pending takeover in the piston single sector overshadow the turbine-oriented NBAA show, with Cessna rumored to be buying Columbia.

Sign up for AVwebBiz for daily updates of the convention, and listen to our Monday podcast to hear NBAA President Ed Bolen discuss the issues surrounding NBAA 2007.

Cessna Reportedly Interested in Columbia

Oregon definitely isn't Kansas but a key component of one Oregon town's economy could be headed there. According to the Wichita Eagle, Cessna is one of as many as three suitors for Columbia Aircraft, which has been shopped around by the Malaysian government, its principal investors, for about a year. Analysts say acquiring Columbia would give Cessna instant penetration of the luxury touring market that it has all but surrendered to Cirrus and the current incarnation of Columbia (the 182 and 206 are not really considered in the same market segment by many analysts). Cessna's interest could be an indication that its high-wing Next Generation Piston project has failed to strike a chord with dealers and potential owners and it has decided to enter the low-wing sweepstakes.

There are reportedly others interested in Columbia but if Cessna is truly in the market it has to be considered the front runner, or at least the eventual winner if someone else is really in the running. NBAA's annual convention likely isn't the chosen forum for this kind of announcement or discussion but CEO Jack Pelton will be at the Atlanta convention and it's a question he'll face.

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FAA Reauthorization Bill — Good News and Bad back to top 

Senate Finance Committee Rejects User Fees

The Senate Finance Committee has approved the "American Infrastructure and Investment Act" as part of Congress's FAA reauthorization process. The Act in part uses an increase in fuel taxes as a source of additional funding for the FAA and its infrastructure modernization efforts. The move was lauded by NBAA, because it does not include the $25-per-leg user fee that the Senate Transportation and Infrastructure Committee was endorsing. "We agree with the Committee that everyone should support the NextGen effort, and that the best way for general aviation to contribute is by 'paying at the pump,'" said NBAA CEO, Ed Bolen. (Be sure to listen to Bolen's comments on the bill in Monday's audiocast).

Bolen emphasized the role of Committee members Max Baucus (D-Mont.) and Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) in moving ahead with a "proven, reliable, and ultra-efficient" system of raising revenue. The full Senate still has to vote on this and it could be several weeks before that happens. Earlier this week, the House of Representatives passed its version of the legislation but it contains a red herring that could cause trouble down the road. The House bill includes a requirement that the FAA's imposed contract on the National Air Traffic Controllers Association be re-opened and the two sides head back to the bargaining table. The Administration is apparently adamantly opposed to that scenario.

House Passes Its Version of FAA Bill

There have been backslaps all around about the House’s convincing 267-151 vote to essentially maintain the status quo on the way the FAA is funded. In rapid succession, the Ways and Means Committee, the Rules Committee and the full House rejected user fees as a method of funding the Next Generation Airspace System (NextGen) and instead allocated modest increases in aviation fuel taxes to that effort. The House vote was considered a slam dunk by most aviation leaders but things get more interesting with the Senate. The Senate bill is much more airline-friendly and contains the $25-per-flight user fee for turbine-powered GA aircraft that has been described in somewhat colorful terms in off-the-record comments by GA leaders. But what it all boils down to is the creation of a bureaucracy to collect the fees, and it’s highly unlikely the $25 fee, if approved, will be the first and last cut. With the National Business Aviation Association convention set to start on Tuesday, expect some serious attention being paid to the Senate deliberations, which could start anytime.

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News Briefs back to top 

Ssshhh: DayJet’s Up And Running

DayJet, the largest customer for Eclipse 500 very light jets, has been quietly conducting revenue flights for more than a week as it shakes down the operation. Although there have been no official announcements about the commencement of air taxi operations, a column by James Fallows in The Atlantic.com spilled the beans and DayJet spokesman Jeff Benanto confirmed the operation to AVweb in an e-mail Thursday. “Right now DayJet is enabling a small number of members to use the system,” Benanto said. “The goal is to slowly ramp up to the point early next month when all the members can use the system.” According to Fallows' column, the first DayJet flight was more than a week ago from Boca Raton to Tallahassee and took 84 minutes. Because of the lack of direct flights between the two cities, a similar trip on the airlines would likely have used up much of the day and driving would have taken at least six and a half hours. Cost of the flight hasn’t been revealed but those sorts of details should be available soon.

No More Dumbing Down GPS

The Department of Defense says its next generation of GPS satellites won’t come with an on/off switch for civilian users. Because the system was originally deployed as a military system, the military wanted the ability to degrade the accuracy of the signal or eliminate it entirely to prevent it from being used against them. But with GPS in everything from cellphones to tracking chips in store merchandise, the DoD long ago gave up any hope of keeping it a discretionary asset and effectively turned off the "selective ability" function in 2000.

However, beginning with satellites deployed in 2013, even that capability won’t be included in the system, something that should calm the fears of some that their moving map could suddenly disappear without warning. "This action to permanently remove SA eliminates a source of uncertainty in GPS performance that has been of concern to civil GPS users worldwide for some time," DoD said in a news release. That undoubtedly means the military has something even better than GPS to run its own systems and it will be interesting to see what trickles down to the civilian market.

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News Briefs back to top 

Friendly-Fire Pilot Loses Suit Against Air Force

Maj. Harry Schmidt, who mistakenly dropped a 500-pound bomb on Canadian troops, killing four Canadian soldiers in 2002, lost a suit against the U.S. Air Force on Thursday. Schmidt claimed the Air Force damaged his reputation by releasing the contents of a letter of reprimand. In a military-style plea arrangement, Schmidt avoided court martial for the friendly-fire accident but his actions were harshly criticized by his superiors in the letter. But U.S. District Court Judge Jeanne Scott ruled that the public interest outweighed Schmidt's personal privacy in this case. "The release of Schmidt's reprimand gave the public, in the United States, and around the world, insight into the way in which the United States government was holding its pilot accountable. Thus considering all of the circumstances, the disclosures at issue were clearly warranted," Scott said.

Schmidt and another F-16 pilot were flying over southern Afghanistan when they spotted muzzle flashes on the ground and thought they were hostile. The flashes came from Canadian troops conducting a live-fire exercise, which Schmidt claimed he was not told was going on. Eight Canadian soldiers were also injured in the incident.

Details Could Scuttle FAA Bill

While there seems to be agreement in the Senate and House that user fees will not be part of the FAA's next reauthorization package, details in the House bill that was recently passed could hamstring its passage and lead to a veto. The administration has already said it would veto the bill over a section that requires the FAA to resume negotiations with air traffic controllers and to go to arbitration if those talks fail. The FAA imposed a contract on the controllers (with Congress' tacit blessing) more than a year ago, and the controllers union has relentlessly criticized the deal, blaming it for an exodus of experienced controllers and a bottoming-out of morale. The White House has the votes it needs to veto since the 267-151 margin is less than the two-thirds required to block a veto. The other hot-button issue tucked in bill that could cause political fireworks is a provision to increase the mandatory retirement age for airline pilots from 60 to 65.

Although most of the media attention about Age 60 has been about the desire by older pilots to keep working, there are significant numbers of younger pilots who oppose the change. There are still thousands of pilots furloughed or who have been demoted to the right seat or to regional carriers and they see increasing the retirement age as another impediement to career advancement. The older pilots, however, say they need the money since bankruptcy at some legacy carriers wiped out their pensions.

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Photos in the News back to top 

Highway Landing Image Captures Headlines

Hardly a day goes by that we don’t hear about some kind of off-airport landing, but the images accompanying one pilot’s bad day in Florida have captured the imagination of even non-pilots. Pilot Robert W. Robertson, 34, was just about the only thing left intact after the Beech Super 18 he was flying lost power Friday, and came down hard on a freeway in Fort Lauderdale. After the crash, Robertson remained strapped in his seat with the shredded aircraft around him until rescuers could cut him free.

He was taken to hospital with multiple injuries and his condition is improving. Robertson took off from Ft. Lauderdale Executive Airport headed for Nassau with a load of store merchandise when he ran into trouble. Unidentified colleagues at Monarch Air, where Robertson worked, speculated that Robertson was trying to avoid hitting buildings and other public buildings with a steep turn executed just before the landing on the freeway.

VTOL Concept at Camarillo: Have You Seen This Plane?

VTOL concept from the Camarillo Air Show

AVweb reader Mike Palmer sent us this tantalizing photo of a Vertical Take-Off and Landing (VTOL) craft from last week's Camarillo Air Show in California. We're currently gathering en masse in Atlanta for the NBAA Convention 2007, so we're hoping AVweb readers can provide more information this latest craft from the "ohh, cool" file. If you saw it at Camarillo (or know more about it), drop us a line.

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AVweb's Audio News — Are You Listening? back to top 

AVweb's Monday Podcast: NBAA's Ed Bolen on the FAA Reauthorization Bill — And NBAA 2007 in Atlanta

File Size 8.2 MB / Running Time 8:59

Podcast Index | How to Listen | Subscribe Via RSS

If you were looking for a definition of busy, National Business Aviation Association President Ed Bolen would fill the bill. Not only is NBAA's big convention coming up Tuesday in Atlanta, there are major developments in Washington concerning the prospect of user fees being applied to general aviation and particularly business aviation. Bolen took a few minutes to bring AVweb's Russ Niles up to date on the latest in Washington and to tell us a bit about what we can expect in Atlanta.

Click here to listen. (8.2 MB, 8:59)

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Exclusive Video from AVweb back to top 

Exclusive Video: Behind the Scenes at the Red Bull Air Races 2007 in San Diego

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

How do they clear those pylons at speeds topping 200mph? And how much Red Bull do air race pilots like Michael Goulian and Mike Mangold really consume to "give them the wings" they need to compete in the Air Race World Series?

AVweb's Glenn Pew ventured to the races in San Diego last week to find out. And though he lost a few hats to stiff breezes whisked in by the racers, he managed to bring back an incredible reel of video highlights and an exclusive look at the intense two-day preparation period with racer Michael Goulian.

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New on AVweb back to top 

CEO of the Cockpit #74: Football Is Like Airline Flying

AVweb's CEO of the Cockpit went down to Texas to learn about college football, the dangers of Wheel of Fortune, and the power of an English Professor to change your career.

Click here for the full story.

It isn't often that an airline flight crew has time to go to a football game during a layover. Many years ago when I was a plumber on the old DC-8 we used to have beacoup Detroit layovers, which meant we were laying-over in Ann Arbor at the venerated Ann Arbor Inn.

Those layovers were seasonal in nature, meaning that the Atlanta based pilots got it in the summertime and we Chicago guys got it in the winter. A lot of layovers seemed to go that way. For some reason, every summer I was laying over in Phoenix and Shreveport. Every winter found me sitting snowed-in at a motel in Fargo, N.D., or Portland, Maine.

The Ann Arbor layovers had a certain allure for this young engineer. In addition to all the parka-clad coeds cruising around the student union at the University of Michigan, we could sometimes score tickets for a football game that they held in their half-buried stadium on the east side of campus.

Going to a football game on an Ann Arbor layover was way more fun than visiting the Michigan Museum of Natural History or trying to get sweet tea with your lunch at the Lamplighter Inn.

We don't lay over in Ann Arbor anymore. The particular flying market has long since been given to the RJ crowd. Why fly hundreds of fare-paying people into a big city when you can fly small amounts of them at a higher cost? The logic of airline management flies over this captain's head once again.

Texas Trip

This layover with my co-pilot Hank was in Dallas and/or Fort Worth and we had a total of 36 fun-filled hours to enjoy our stay. Normally, layovers don't last longer than a good nap, a healthy poop and a quick shower, but during the end of the month, changeover trips tend to get a little squirrelly. We were in the DFW area until one month ended and a whole new month's set of bad trip-rotations began.

What the heck; we were young jet pilots with a weekend to spend eating Tex-Mex food and watching the interstate in Arlington near Six Flags Over Texas fill with the honking, smelly cars of the local Texicans. Who knew that Hank would come up with two football tickets from his old Texas alma mater, Goat Rope State?

Hank's home team was coming in from the far reaches of West Texas to play those low-life, sister-marrying, communications majors from Southeast Central Texas Agricultural University.

Yep, it was going to be the Fighting Goat Ropers going toe-to-toe against those milk-money-stealing Horned Cows from SCTAU and the game was going to be a more exciting than a coach meal with an ice cream sundae, according to Hank.

The hotel van from the Arlington Hilton gladly took us away from their lobby bar and deposited Hank and me directly in front of the hallowed stadium of the fighting Horned Cows. "Dan Jenkins Field" is a beautiful place if you can ignore the fact that it is built with taxpayer money on the biggest salt flat in the DFW area.

We viewed the scene through our company funded Serengeti sunglasses and began the long climb to our seats.

The stadium is about two miles south of the departure end of the DFW runways, so we were not surprised at two facts. First, the noise of departing overbooked airliners drowned out the playing of the national anthem by the Fighting Horned Cows marching band and, second, there was a big advertisement for our airline on the inside cover of the game's program right next to printed text of the Horned Cows rousing fight song. The ad was a picture of one of our 757s with the sales pitch: "Get the Hell out of Texas on Our Modern Jets!"

Hank and I got our beers and settled into our seats in Section 11a, Row 65. We sat in a sort of "reverse seniority," with me on the right and Hank on the left. We were situated just above a group of skanky SCTAU females whose only saving grace was that their tattoos appeared to be spelled correctly.

Sitting With The Good-Old Boys

On either side of us were two guys. Joe, who was on my right, sported a SCTAU wife-beater shirt (three sizes too small) and a baseball cap with a picture of a cartoon Rebel on it saying, "Forget? Hell!" On Hank's left side was a fellow with wire-rimmed glasses, a leather-elbowed tweed sports coat and a hat saying, "Our Sports Team is far Superior to Your Sports Team."

Great; redneck on the right, nerd on the left.

My new friend Joe started the conversation off by first apologizing for spilling beer on my leg and then telling me how many games of the SCTAU Horned Cows he had attended in his lifetime, which was all of them.

"You fly for the airlines, don't you?" Joe began while at the same time lighting up his third cigarette.

How did you figure that out?

"Because you are still wearing your airline ID on your jacket."

Oh, crap. In my hurry to get ready for the football game, I forgot to take my secondary ID off of my commuting jacket. A secondary ID, for you non-airline or law-abiding airline people, is the ID you get from the company when you lie to them and tell them you lost the first one.

Security Level: Plastic

It works like this: Every airline pilot's professional life is predicated on having his or her airline ID always at the ready. You need your ID to get through security. You need it to get into the pilot's lounge and you need it to get access to your plane at the gate. If you forget it or lose it, your trip can come to a screeching halt.

In order to keep that sort of thing from happening, the less honest of us tell the company that we've lost our ID. They will give us one free replacement and then start charging us an escalating amount for subsequent losses.

That way I can keep one of them safely in my wallet or on my uniform and a second one handy for when I try to get on the plane home after a trip. I had my second ID on my jacket for just such an occurrence but forgot to remove it and was now about to pay for it for at least four more quarters.

"My uncle was an airline pilot just after the big war," continued Joe with no encouragement from me. "Yep, after getting a bullet in the butt flying Hueys in Vet-nam, he got a job flying for Braniff. He got furloughed after Braniff went belly-up and got on with Southwest."

How is he now?

"Dead." Said Joe. "He was what you people call 'laying-over' in Little Rock and died from a heart attack while he was watching 'Wheel' on TV. They found him the next morning still in his uniform, sitting up, deader than disco."

Those layovers can be dangerous, I said, trying to be helpful yet respectful of a dead captain and a war hero.

"Yeah," said Joe, who after his sixth beer was getting a little misty-eyed. "This stadium seat was left to me by my uncle. He was a big Horned Cow fan and once told me that airline flying was an awful lot like a football game."

I had to ask: How so?

"Hours and hours of uncomfortable boredom interspersed with quick moments of excitement and pain."

I'm sorry I never got to meet your uncle. He sounds like he was a good pilot and a great American.

Mayday for the Goat Ropers

By now, the game was not only underway, it was out of control. In between the howling madness of a hundred climbing turbojets, we saw and heard the dismantling of the Fighting Goat Roper's entire football program. By half-time the score was: Horned Cows 46 -- Goat Ropers 3.

Hank and I retired to the snack bar during the latter part of half-time for some much-needed beer and nachos.

I asked Hank if he was OK staying and watching his alma mater getting their noses stomped into the mud like a new-hire at a chief pilot's conference, or if he wanted to head back to the Hilton.

"Hell no! This is the best my team has done here in 20 years," said Hank, who by now had imbibed at least as much brew as my new best friend, Joe.

Rather than try to get Hank back up those 80 flights of stairs to our seats, I make a pre-emptive phone call and summoned the Hilton van back to pick us up early. Most of the Goat Roper's fans were heading out the exits as we left. They were moving for the doors faster than a "special needs" passenger at the gate on arrival in Fort Lauderdale.

Hank didn't mind leaving a little early. His seatmate turned out to be an English Lit professor that he had taken a class from when he was a junior at GRS.

Proust Was No Pilot ...

"Old Professor Snape didn't remember me, but I sure remembered him," said Hank. "He was the one who convinced me that my worst day flying an airplane was going to be way better than my best day reading Proust and talking about dangling modifiers. The day after I dropped out of his class and quit being an English major was the day I enrolled in Air Force ROTC, started majoring in engineering and began my Air Force career."

I'm sure it was a great loss to the literary community but a great gain for the defense of our nation, I said.

As our white, air-conditioned, hotel courtesy crew bus entered the interstate for our ride back to layover bliss, our conversation thankfully drifted away from losing football teams and we got back to more comfortable subjects.

Questions like, "What the hell is a pen and pencil revision?" and "How is it possible that every ground handler's headset could go inop at the same time, system-wide?"

Before we knew it, we had shaken off the dust of a cool-weather Texas football afternoon. We had forgotten all about Snape and my new-best-friend Joe and had begun to look forward to tomorrow night's layover in Jackson, Miss. -- the cultural center of the airline world.



Is it really necessary to bother chasing down the proper grease for your airplane? We think so.

Click here to read this maintenance article.

Elbow grease, grease the skids, greasy kid's stuff; grease makes the world go 'round -- literally. The earliest forms of grease were various and sundry animal extrusions and leftovers.

Today still, numerous organically based greases give excellent service -- although their origins are more from lithium and calcium than bears. Synthetics have largely replaced organics in many markets, with wide temperature-stability being their biggest advantage.

Bewildering Array

A brief check of any lubricant supplier will demonstrate a bewildering number of choices. The Shell Company certainly has a near monopoly in the aviation grease arena, notwithstanding the popularity of Mobil 28 synthetic grease, similar in applications to Shell 22.

Because of their wide availability, we will concentrate on Shell products. Shell can be reached at this Web site for consumer questions on their lubricant use and availability. They have a 196-page booklet available for download that has specs for all their aviation products. Shell uses the name "Aeroshell" for its aviation products, but we'll stick to the general name "Shell" for this article.

We felt an overview of greases was necessary, since we get frequent questions on what lubricants to use.

One reader even commented that after reviewing the choices at the Shell web site, he felt little enlightenment as to the proper choice, since the word "general purpose" is the primary description used in most grease categories. We will make some definite recommendations later.

One Choice

There is still no perfect grease for all occasions. You could get away with one choice -- probably with Shell 22, a wide-temperature-range synthetic -- but we prefer to make two recommendations. You will still only need one grease gun, as one of our two recommendations is strictly for wheel-bearing use.

Interestingly, the use of automotive needs is not a major element in selecting aviation greases. In the auto world, everything is punctuated with extreme pressure (EP) additives such a molybdenum disulfide.

Could you get away with using auto grease in an airplane? It's done every day, but considering the low cost of grease on a relative basis for the individual, why not go with the established and recommended products?

Aviation greases are definitely different from the automotive brands, particularly when they are based on specific standards of cleanliness and what is in the product.

Planes that fly high or in cold weather should definitely stick with the proper selections, since improper grease can become like glue when it's cold enough. Try hitting the tarmac at 100 knots with frozen grease in the wheel bearings for a life-shortening experience in wheel-assembly components.

That squeal you hear is not a pig on the runway, but your bearings pleading for mercy. Fly low and slow and park in nice, dry, warm weather and you might get away with Crisco in the Zerks -- not recommended.


Grease is nothing more than a thickened oil designed to do one or more of the following tasks: seal, protect, cushion and, in general, provide long service-life of components. Since there is a spectrum of performance criteria, compromise is still the order of the day.

If you looked at the proportions of the basic ingredients in grease, you would find the base oil makes up about 70 to 95 percent, the thickener about 5 to 15 percent and performance additives from 0 to 5 percent. The base oil is the lube carrier, while the thickener provides resistance to water washout and mechanical stability.

The additive package provides antirust and anti-wear ingredients. EP ingredients are in the additive package as well, as are oxidation inhibitors. So, while the additive package makes up a small proportion, it can represent a significant part of the characteristics of the grease package.

Grease is often classified by the thickeners used in the product. Calcium is an old standby in the organically based greases and an example is Shell 14 with a moderate temperature performance and the least resistance to water washout of all Shell greases. Shell advises to verify seal compatibility first with Shell 14 (as it advises with most of their greases).

Shell 14's forte is it's the recommended grease for helicopter main and tail rotor bearings due to its superior anti-fretting properties.

An example of today's aero greases employing lithium is Shell 33, which has a high melting point but is the next least-water-resistant of the current Shell greases. This is a characteristic the airlines are willing to trade for its superior versatility.

Shell 15 is an extreme-temperature-range grease with silicone and Teflon, used in turbine engine bearings. Shell 16 is a multipurpose synthetic grease suitable for high-speed wheel bearings. On the other hand, Shell 17 is simply an EP version of Shell 7, with five-percent molybdenum disulfide. It meets MS 21164D.

Inorganic gels (synthetics) used in other Shell aero greases such as Shell 22 (MS-81322D) and Shell 5 (mineral based, MS-3545C -- obsolete reference) have excellent and good high-temperature performance respectively, as well as excellent water-washout resistance.

Shell 22CF is a variation on Shell 22 with similar capabilities; however, the "microgel" thickener is replaced with a clay thickener. It meets the same mil-spec as the Shell 22 and additional requirements of other standards. Shell 23C is a clay-thickened synthetic hydrocarbon that should only be used on steel surfaces.

The big advantage of a synthetic is that it won't soften at high temperatures and run off the surfaces it is designed to protect. Other additives are used in small quantities such as bentonite (clay) to enhance a particular trait.

The second major component of grease is oil, which may be either synthetic or mineral-oil based. Shell 5, 6 and 14 use mineral oil. There are no duplicates in the combinations of base oil and thickener, with water washout and temperature range being big differentiators.

Either Shell 22 or Shell 5 is a first-rate choice for GA wheel bearings. If you have a high performance airplane that is a high flier, Shell 22 is probably the better bet because it has the best temperature range. Shell 5, on the other hand, has better corrosion resistance, but a significantly lower range of useful temperatures. It is also cheaper.

Primary Uses

First, high-speed roller bearings require clean grease, in the manufacture as well as storage and handling. Next, is thermal stability, because in roller bearings the balls tend to push the grease out of the way. If the grease melts, the race fills and churns the thinned grease, adding to friction.

If the grease is too thick, it will be displaced to the side and provide no real lubrication. Proper thickness is imperative, and the great temperature extremes of the inorganic gels like Shell 22 are one reason why they are so effective at this task.

Buying greases in overly large amounts makes sense only if you will use it in a reasonable amount of time, or if you have some way to assure it is kept clean. All the efforts of getting the right stuff are negated by inadvertent contamination by careless handling and storage. This can be a particularly vexing problem in a shop environment with multiple users, big containers and people in a hurry.

Moly or EP lubes are better suited for low-speed, high-pressure sliding surfaces, as they form a solid film on the parts that resists evaporation, water washout and corrosion. This can be counterintuitive somewhat, as one might think that this sticky, high-pressure stuff is the perfect grease for wheel bearings. It is what you tend to find in the automotive markets as the universal solution.


Do you need to clean out the old stuff before using the new? Yes, particularly when changing from an organic-based product to an inorganic. There may be adverse chemical reactions that lessen the grease effectiveness.

For example, if you switch from Shell 5 to Shell 22, cleaning the bearings becomes particularly important. Even more so in applications such as in prop hubs, where corrosion damage can be very expensive to fix.

When repacking bearings, it's a good idea to clean them for other reasons as well, such as for inspection of the metal surfaces. Any good solvent will work fine, and as always recommended, don't spin dry bearings with shop air.

For grease fittings, you are obviously not going to disassemble the joints just to clean out old grease. The only thing you can do is be sure to run enough new grease into the fitting to displace as much old grease as possible, and stick with one type of grease (and the same brand).

Be sure to clean off the old, expelled grease, as it's not healthy for paint if left on for prolonged periods. Air loads can spread it everywhere.

Our Picks

First, look in your aircraft maintenance manual for the manufacturer's recommendations. Normally you will find a chart or diagram with all the fittings/locations and recommended lubricant or protectant products. (Some fitting locations may be virtually invisible without a diagram.) Schedules for lubrication will also be there. Hopefully, mil-spec. numbers will be included, which makes selection easy.

Barring specific recommendations from the manufacturer, we like Shell 22 for the wheel bearings of jets and other high-performance aircraft and Shell 5 for all others in wheel-bearing applications. Shell 5 has the greatest oil viscosity by orders of magnitude over all other Shell greases. Shell 5 is also recommended for magnetos, starters, and generators.

For the grease gun and airframe lube, we like Shell 6. Again, for high-performance aircraft and turbines, Shell 7, with its synthetic base oil, has a greater temperature range both high and low. Shell 7 is the product recommended by Shell for turbine applications of all types.

If you are determined to use only one grease for all applications, then go with Shell 22, but we strongly recommend you adhere to the mil-spec recommendations in your maintenance manual as the prime directive.

Grease has a shelf life of three years according to Shell's recommendations. After that it may start to break down into its component parts, and no longer do a good job or meet its specifications. Any stocks should be retested.

Gearboxes and Motors

While gearboxes generally use specialized fluids, when you are greasing, it's a good idea to check the manual for motor and gearbox servicing requirements. On Bonanzas it's every 300 hours, and not only includes the gear-actuator box, but also the gear motor itself with Shell 22. Judging from our inspections, these motors are frequently neglected. Don't say we didn't warn you if the gear fails to come down one day.

Servicing Fittings

First, if your airplane does not have plastic, protective, grease-fitting caps, go out and get some, as they are your first line of defense against grease-fitting contamination. They are cheap and effective and are carelessly yanked off and not replaced.

If you have your plane serviced and this happens, you might use this as a barometer of the care your plane receives in areas you can't see. Taking care to do things right tends to extend to the little things as well as big.

Be sure to give the fitting a light wipe with a solvent dampened rag to be sure you don't start service by injecting dirt into the fitting. Unfortunately, constipated, dried out fittings are very common on fittings not greased regularly, and it leads to a cycle of neglect. Occasionally, disassembly is the only solution, but most times, they can be convinced to cooperate.

Taking the weight off the joint is a good idea anyway to help greasing. Sometimes, exercising the joint helps, as does doing the greasing in warm weather. A little heat from a hair drier (no higher temperatures) has been known to help make a fitting cooperative, as does cursing.

Increasing the pressure of the grease gun, if an option, can be a mixed bag; if the fitting is indeed clogged, you may only succeed in blowing the fitting off the assembly.

In addition, there is a hammer-struck tool that imparts a sudden, high-pressure air stream to the fitting for stuck Zerks. Use with great care and don't expect miracles. Lastly, a blast of WD-40 in the fitting and around the joint edges helps in some very limited applications, along with exercising the joint. The longer you let greasing go the harder to ultimately fix the fitting/joint.

Gun Talk

The typical hand-cranked grease gun will work fine on free-flowing fittings. They typically put out around 1500 psi. It normally will do just about all fittings on the plane with the stock connector. The first thing you should consider is a flexible hose to replace the rigid pipe. It makes maneuvering easier. Use a hand to hold the connector from popping off.

Please take the pressure off guns with a plunger handle after use. Leaving the plunger engaged keeps pressure on the grease and tends to press all the oil out of the grease over time. What you have left is only the thickener -- not a good thing for the joint or ease of injection.

An alternative is a compressed-air-assisted gun (not the expensive shop-type) with a built-in pressure multiplier. Harbor Freight Tools is a good source for low-cost ($15 - $25) guns. These imported guns are in the low-use, modest-quality category and will not stand up to commercial duty.

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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If you live near or in one of these states — California, New Mexico, or Oklahoma — Mike Busch will be offering his acclaimed Savvy Owner Seminar. In one information-packed weekend, you will learn how to have a safer, more reliable aircraft while saving thousands of dollars on maintenance costs, year after year. For complete details (and to reserve your space), click here.
Your Favorite FBOs back to top 

FBO of the Week: Hutt Aviation/Soar Minden (KMEV, Minden-Tahoe Airport, Minden, NV)

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

AVweb's "FBO of the Week" ribbon goes to Hutt Aviation & Soar Minden at Tahoe-Minden Airport (KMEV) in Minden, Nevada.

The Civil Air Patrol's Brent Ludlow spent quite a few hours there during the last two weeks as part of the search for missing aviator Steve Fossett. Ludlow spoke highly of both FBO operators and the airport's Taildragger Restaurant:

You all made us welcome and promptly responded to anything we needed. You helped all of us in the Civil Air Patrol to do our job, and I hope everyone flying through there stops to enjoy the hospitality that we have seen.

Congratulations to the folks at Minden-Tahoe — and Brent, watch your e-mail. We'll be in touch about sending you an official AVweb ball cap.

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!

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In Touch with Our Readers back to top 

AVmail: Sep. 24, 2007

Reader mail this week about anticollision devices, a misidentified Flying Fortress, a pilot's history and more.

Click here to read this week's letters to the editor.


AVweb has an opening for an able and experienced aviation writer and editor with proven experience in both print and web publishing, although we're willing to train the right person in the finer points of massaging content for the web. This position requires relocation to our Sarasota, Florida office. If this description fits you, contact aviationeditorial@comcast.net.

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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"

Flying our Bonanza from Cape Cod, Massachusetts to Morristown, New Jersey at 6,000 feet with a big thunderstorm to the west, we were handed off to New York approach:

Approach, Bonanza Eight Zero Lima level 6,000, heading 270.

Bonanza Eight Zero Lima, descend and maintain 5,000.

Okay to stay at 6,000 for a better view of the weather ahead?

Whaddever, sure, stay at 6,000.

Later, we were close to some buildups when approach turned us right to 280 degrees.

Eighty Lima, would really rather turn left about 10 degrees to stay out of the buildups ahead.

Approach (Exasperated Tone):
Okay, do whatever vou want to do. Just let me know when you're done.

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

Contributing Editors
Mary Grady
Glenn Pew

Features Editor
Kevin Lane-Cummings

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

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