AVmail: Jan. 23, 2006
Reader mail this week about Sport Planes, aircraft parts, 737 reefs and more.
With the Question of the Week being about sport aircraft (QOTW, Jan. 12), I found this suiting. I live in Mount-Hope, Ontario, Canada, a small town just outside of Hamilton (CYHM). There is a sport plane (here called an "advanced ultralight") flight school starting out there. The school is run by Mike Rhora and his wonderfully knowledgeable wife, Mel (also known as the Kitty Hawk Couple). They are operating a Jabiru Calypso that I helped build. They are two very nice and overly talented people who are really pioneering the Sport-Plane category here in Canada.
Every one around here thinks they [sport planes] are a joke and I would just like to thank people like Mike for changing the opinion of many people. They have had die-hard certifieds, as they like to call them, come in and joke about how small the plane is and how cheap they think it is. This is until Mike tells them the specs of these wonderful little aircraft. I have seen jaws drop and eyes open wide when they hear that the airplane can do 115 kt and only have 2.6-GPH fuel burn. I wish that more people could open their eyes to the world of sport flying. As for Mike I wish him and his wife the best of luck in the future. Let's hope that more people can see the light. Please support sport flying. Check out this Web site and if you are ever in the area drop into CYHM Hanger 4 (Glanford) and have a chat with these two history makers. You will be surprised with their knowledge and with their aircraft.
Cessna 421 Settlement
I guess that Mr. Weitzman missed the point (AVmail, Jan. 16) that the accident -- that appears to be at least partially caused by pilot error -- resulted in a successful $26 million lawsuit against the manufacturers involved. (Please note that in the story the right engine was feathered, yet the left throttle was found in the closed position.)
Also, anyone who is involved with high-performance automotive and marine engines will tell you that an auto-derived V8, prepped to withstand aviation use and the required reliability, would be at least as expensive as an IO-550
Aircraft Parts Quality
Aircraft parts are inferior in quality and outrageously overpriced compared to automotive parts!
Aircraft parts manufacturers and the FAA want pilots to believe that aircraft parts are superior to automotive parts in quality. Not in my opinion. I have built "street rods" and high-performance engines for years and the quality of aftermarket parts for the automotive world is far superior to most parts I can purchase for my airplane at a fraction of the cost.
For example: Aftermarket racing crankshafts for a Chevrolet or Ford V8 can be purchased for a fraction of the price of a replacement Lycoming or Continental four- or six-cylinder crankshaft. The automotive crankshafts perform in engines that can easily produce from 500 to 700 horsepower at very high rpm and last forever. Aircraft engines put out much less horsepower at greatly reduced rpm yet we as aircraft owners are constantly bombarded with "Service Bulletins" and ADs on crankshafts, connecting rods, camshafts, lifters, oil-pump gears, magnetos, propeller hubs, propellers, piston wrist pins, and the list goes on and on. It appears that some manufacturers of aircraft parts just can't get it right!
Aircraft manufacturers, aftermarket parts manufacturers and the FAA seem to think nothing of requiring the aircraft owner to have their engine torn down "within the next 25 hours" to replace internal parts that are inferior in quality and should never have been installed in the first place. Do your readers think automotive manufacturers would stay in business very long if they had to take their car into the dealership to have the crankshaft or connecting rods replaced "within the next 25 hours" just because the Automotive Parts Manufacturing Association says they must be replaced because they are of inferior quality?
Most pilots I know think they are paying outrageous prices for aircraft parts because they are getting a far superior product. (Most of them are not aircraft mechanics, don't do their own maintenance and probably just don't know any better).
My question is: Given the outrageous price of aviation parts and accessories, do your readers feel they are receiving a superior quality product and value for their dollar?
Then again maybe all this "Service Bulletin" and AD stuff is just because of "Liability" and not being "Held Accountable" for inferior products!
Unusual Cirrus PIREP
If you think the PIREP you published was strange (NewsWire, Jan. 19), you should have seen the original one that came out. At the end of the PIREP, it said, "ACFT ABANDONED DUE TO SEVERE ICE BUILDUP."
737 Sunk For Reef
I enjoyed your article about the 737 that was sunk to be used as an artificial reef (NewsWire, Jan. 16). In the article you say that it was the first passenger plane to be used as an artificial reef. In Hawaii, a YS-11 that was previously operated by Mid Pacific Airlines was sunk by Atlantis Submarines for the same purpose. They use the aircraft along with other underwater structures to attract fish for the submarine tours that go as deep as 90 feet off of Waikiki.
I really enjoy your articles. As a captain on a Challenger 601 based in Hawaii, I find that your publication many times is the first place that I see important information that affects my flying.
Don Machado, Jr.
The article said that was believed to be the first passenger plane to be used as an artificial reef. But there is a DC-3 just off the coast of Aruba used for the same purpose. I dove it back in 1994.
747 Takeoff Picture
Is that for real? That 747 looks like it has about 200 feet 'till the end of the runway with its gear still on the ground! (Picture of the Week, Jan. 19)
We can't say for sure, but it appears the runway lighting shows there's about 1,000 feet left. Zoom lenses do some strange things.