AVmail: October 21, 2013


Letter of the Week:
Me-Too Mooney?

News of the imminent resurgence of Mooney spawned two reactions in me. I’m happy that owners of the breed are likely to have a secure supply of spares to keep their birds flying. I have fond memories of a variety of Mooneys. Most of my M-20 time is in a 231. It’s fast and capable, if a little snug for my taste. If you’re willing to fly it very slowly on final, it’s even a decent short-field lander (short-field take-offs being another subject). So, I admit that I like Mooneys. But among the almost 100 aircraft types I’ve flown, I can’t think of a single one that I’ve actually disliked. Like pretty girls, some planes simply are nicer than others, but they’re all good.

But here’s my thing: What can a Mooney do that an SR-22 can’t? I’m stumped. Frankly, what can a Warrior do that a Skyhawk can’t? I wish Mooney the best, but I’m having trouble seeing how a low-volume industry and marketplace is aided by the addition of more me-too models. This absolutely is a big part of why light airplanes are so expensive. An already tiny market is divided among ten times as many manufacturers as it needs. I fear that this is vanity masquerading as innovation.

Thomas Yarsley

Reading Lessons

A point in the article about cockpit automation was “read the manual.” But a point that was omitted is that at least some manufacturers’ manuals are boring. That leads to scanning, not reading. I’m a good, fast reader, a necessary skill for an experienced lawyer, but I find some manuals, from the lowly automotive GPSs’ to the fanciest avionics’, to be considerably obtuse and often impossible to comprehend. It doesn’t do much good to have important information buried in a format that makes it extremely difficult to find. It’s as if the manuals were created by people who have never been in a cockpit.

I don’t fly with any autopilot at this time. My experience with fancy GA autopilots stopped with the best King equipment of the 1980s, with altitude capture and hold, capable of coupled approaches, etc. The benefit of that equipment was that, with almost no reading and almost no effort, the autopilot could be programmed, used, and easily shut off if necessary. As long as the control box was installed where the pilot could see it, its mode was obvious. Now manufacturers have made their manuals so difficult to read that it’s no wonder pilots don’t read them. They miss important nuances of the system, and then the autopilot bites them, like partially shutting off when the GPS goes from GPS mode to VOR/LOC mode.

It’s also no wonder that one of the most common phrases heard in TAA is, “Why did it do that?” So ignorant pilots (those who don’t try to read the manuals) need to shoulder some of the blame for automation problems, but I suggest that the manufacturers need to shoulder a big part of that blame for creating overly complicated systems and incomprehensible instruction manuals. Truly, the KISS principle has been overlooked.

Cary Alburn

94 Octane Mogas Available in B.C.

Regarding Paul Bertorelli’s comments about mogas: Chevron Canada is listed on a no-ethanol web site as not having ethanol in their 94 Octane automotive fuel sold in British Columbia.

Chevron Canada confirmed that to me, as under B.C. rules they have to average five percent ethanol but can have from 0 to 10 percent.

They sell four grades of automotive gasoline while most stations only sell three, if I recall correctly — 87, 89, and 91 Octane. Chevron’s price for 94 Octane fuel is in step with their pricing progression through the lower grades.

That’s 94 octane by road method, the average of Motor and Research test methods. Also known as Anti-Knock Index. Aviation gas may use only the Research method.

Chevron Canada’s web site cautions against use of auto gas in aircraft, however.

Keith Sketchley

Non-Profit Competition

I have been a member and supporter of AOPA for over 30 years, and I understand a non-profit organization’s need to raise money for operations. However, it doesn’t seem right for a non-profit to be in the business of competing directly against private “for-profit” companies, many of whom may be supporters of that very organization. Such is the case of the FlyQ app. Regardless of the lawsuit against AOPA, for a non-profit to profit at the expense of private business seems unethical at best. I no longer use FlyQ.

Kirk Lindberg