At first, I was annoyed by the continued media fascination with GA aircraft accidents, then quickly realized the news media was working in our favor. We've just failed to realize the opportunity this and other similar events have given us. The GA community and the organizations that represent GA in America today need to mount an effective media campaign capitalizing on just that ... what the media is so eager to show on it's national news. GA aircraft are incapable of causing substantial damage either inadvertantly or, more importantly, as part of a terrorist conspiracy. We have preached this to ourselves, but have not effectively gotten the message to the public. Sadly, some good must come out of similar GA accidents. I'm convinced a sound PR campaign using the events shown in the media can do just that.
To Whom it May Concern:
The page you sent me attached to a letter dated only "February 2003" says, "Aircraft without a backup pneumatic power source ... should only be flown in daytime VFR conditions."
May I direct your attention to the Federal Aviation Regulations, Sec. 91.205, subsection (c)?
For VFR flight at night, the following instruments and equipment are required - airspeed indicator, altimeter, magnetic direction indicator, tachometer, oil pressure gauge for each engine using pressure system, temperature gauge for each liquid-cooled engine, oil temperature gauge for each air-cooled engine, manifold pressure gauge for each altitude engine, muel gauge indicating the quantity of fuel in each tank, landing gear position indicator (if the aircraft has a retractable landing gear), an approved aviation red or aviation white anticollision light system, approved flotation gear and at least one pyrotechnic signaling device (if the aircraft is operated for hire over water and beyond power-off gliding distance from shore), a safety belt for each occupant 2 years of age or older, a shoulder harness for each front seat, an emergency locator transmitter a (if required by Sec. 91.207), position lights, a red or white anticollision light and, if the aircraft is operated for hire, one electric landing light.
I'm not required to have a gyro instrument in the aircraft for night VFR flight, but you want me to have a BACKUP instrument -- backup to something I don't need to have? Are you trying to scare me, sell me something, or protect yourself from lawsuits?
Get off my back. Take me off your Chicken Little list.
AVweb responds ...
There's no regulation requiring back-up gyros or redundant vacuum systems for IFR flight. It's up to the owner/pilot to make the call on this issue. A couple of years ago, Parker Hannifin -- which used to manufacture the Airborne line of dry vacuum pumps -- launched a massive mail campaign to owners that warned of the dangers in flying in IMC without back-up systems. Unfortuately, the letters used language that implied that back-up was a requirement, not a judgment call.
An attempt to limit liability? Sure, but for a company that's been sued as often as Parker has over vacuum pump issues, who can blame them? Required or not, the value of the letters is to remind owners who fly IMC that a back-up vacuum/gyro system is risk reducer.
Regarding Mr. Malin's AVmail of February 10:
Pipers have the plates that go over the oil cooler in cold weather. The older Cessna's have a blast tube that directs air over the oil screen and oil temp gage sender -- but this is only on the old 172 with the oil screen -- not the newer models with the Lycoming engines. Another interesting bit of info: The oil from the oil cooler lines should be drained when changing the oil.
An owner or renter should, as always, become familiar with the pilot's operating handbook to understand all the operational characteristics -- especially a renter who may be taking the aircraft on a long cross country flight to a different climate.
Light Plane Maintenance