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World's Leading Independent Aviation News Service
Volume 25, Number 1c
January 5, 2018
 
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Unresponsive Cirrus Missing Over Gulf
 
Myron Nelson
 
 

The United States Coast Guard and Mexican authorities are searching for a Cirrus SR22 that vanished Wednesday from radar over the Gulf of Mexico northwest of Cancun. The aircraft, N325JK, was registered to Abide Aviation LLC of Edmund, Oklahoma. The missing pilot, reported by family members as Bill Kinsinger of Oklahoma City, departed Wiley Post airport (PWA) en route to Georgetown, Texas (GTU), on a humanitarian animal rescue mission for Pilots N Paws, a nonprofit organization that coordinates volunteer pilots and aircraft willing to assist animals in need.

According to tracking data from FlightAware, as the aircraft approached its destination, it veered slightly to the left and then proceeded on a constant heading, bypassing its intended destination and continuing to the southeast until crossing the Texas shoreline near Galveston and proceeding out over the Gulf of Mexico. When the aircraft stopped responding to air traffic control, F-16 fighter jets from Houston were scrambled by NORAD to intercept the stricken craft. They reported that the pilot appeared to be the sole occupant of the aircraft and also reported that the pilot appeared to be slumped over in his seat and was unresponsive to their repeated attempts to attract his attention. Fuel restraints and approaching darkness forced the interceptors to disengage and return to their base. Radar contact of the aircraft was lost about 200 miles northwest of Cancun and showed the aircraft at approximately 15,000 feet.

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Friday Foibles: And The Winners (Losers) Are?
 
Paul Berge
 

With pilot friends like this, who needs Comedy Central? The pilot of an experimental RV-6 in Michigan told a friend to get to the beach and watch for his flyby. As promised the sleek two-seater buzzed at 100 feet, made three passes—one is never enough—pulled up in a steep turn, stalled and hit the water, securing the 2012 Bronze Stupid Pilot Tricks Award.

Earning silver with a display of star-spangled patriotism was the helicopter pilot who on July Fourth attached a flag to the skid of his experimental Rotorway and lifted it so all could see, but O, say could they see the flag rip lose, entangle itself in the tail rotor and bring Old Glory to an inglorious end. 

Taking home the gold was the non-certificated “pilot” in Georgia who’d recently purchased a Destiny XLT powered parachute—picture a swamp buggy with a canopy—and tried to impress his neighbors with his ability to learn on the fly. Spectators in the cul-de-sac watched the “pilot” unpack the chute, start the engine and begin the takeoff roll. It was then that this non-certificated “pilot” aborted the flight, concerned that he might hit nearby houses.

This sort of responsible aeronautical decision-making gets you lost to history, so our hero loaded his Destiny onto a trailer and relocated to a nearby elementary school to re-enter the competition. He was back in contention. 

After unpacking the rig, the “pilot” took the front seat, started the engine and flew. Once airborne, he decided it wise to fasten the seatbelt while making two circuits of the elementary schoolyard. It was then that he realized he’d never checked to see if there was any fuel in the tank. There was, but not much. The engine quit, and the non-certificated “pilot” glided into phone lines and crashed.

For persistence in stupidity, with added points for choosing an elementary school venue for displaying said deeds, we present the coveted Stupid Pilot Tricks Knucklehead Award. Although the FAA was powerless to take action against the certificate the “pilot” did not possess, it did revoke his playground privileges for a month.

Mooney Ovation Flight Review
 
Paul Bertorelli
 
 

Mooney is showing off its new Ovation Ultra, with a new Garmin G1000 NXi from Garmin and--a first--a pilot's side door for the cabin. In this in-depth flight review video, AVweb's Paul Bertorelli explains how the Ovation Ultra compares to the competition, especially the Cirrus SR22.

 

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Wing Loss Possible In RV Crash
 
AVweb Staff
 
 

A Van’s RV-7 that crashed on New Year’s Day in Northland New Zealand, killing both occupants, has caught the attention of the RV community because of the possibility of structural failure. If the investigation confirms the witness accounts, it will be the second suspected fatal in-flight breakup of an RV-7 this year. A similar aircraft crashed in Arizona in June and local reports suggest that plane came apart. The New Zealand builder/pilot Dean Voelkerling was an experienced and respected EMS helicopter pilot and was well-known in the local aviation community.

Local media reported eyewitness of a wing “spiraling” down separate from the stricken aircraft, which crashed into a field. While it is common for early eyewitness accounts to be inaccurate, video and still pictures released from the scene also appear to show the absence of the aircraft’s right wing. This tragedy will surely be watched closely by enthusiasts and authorities alike as the investigation unfolds, especially as it comes on the heels of a fatal accident of the same RV-7 model this past June in Arizona, which also presented early indications of an in-flight structural failure. More information will follow as the investigation continues.

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Diversions, Cancellations Thanks To Storm
 
AVweb Staff
 
 

A Singapore Airlines A380 diverted to Stewart Airport about 80 miles north of its destination of JFK, one of many diversions caused by a massive winter storm affecting the entire Eastern part of the U.S. JFK rejected the Super Jumbo because of whiteout conditions and the contaminated runway. Stewart wasn't much better but the aircraft landed safely on the 10,800-foot runway of the former Strategic Air Command base and the 325 passengers were bussed to the Big Apple three hours later. The storm has severely affected airline, general aviation and even marine operations from Maine to northern Florida. 

Meteorologists are calling for heavy snow and high wind warnings along the entire Eastern Seaboard and are expecting the storm to undergo “bombogenesis,” which is defined as a “quick strengthening of a cyclonic low-pressure into an explosive development” known ominously within the meteorological community as a “weather bomb.” According to flight tracking service FlightAware.com, airlines on Thursday canceled hundreds of flights in the afflicted areas in anticipation of the storm.

Most airlines issue waivers to passengers with bookings to allow those passengers to alter travel plans without fees or higher fares for a few days after such events. Because of the network nature of airline travel, large disruptions in heavily trafficked areas cause ripple effects of delays and cancellations around the country and even globally as aircraft and flight crews get delayed, stranded, rerouted or canceled. Newly updated flight crew duty restrictions also play a role as delayed flight crews start “timing out” on available flight and duty time availability and must enter mandatory rest periods, often, ironically, just as the flying weather improves and operations resume.

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Garmin's Budget Autopilot Now STC Approved
 
Larry Anglisano
 
 

There is now more competition in the growing retrofit autopilot market as Garmin announced it has earned an STC (supplemental type certificate) for its GFC500 entry-level autopilot. With roots planted in the experimental aircraft market, the GFC500 joins other experimental autopilot models (including TruTrak’s Vision and Trio’s Pro Pilot) that have been awarded an STC for installation in certified aircraft.

Garmin’s STC for the GFC500 includes a wide range of Cessna 172 and 182 models. But there’s more on the way. In its Jan. 3, 2018, announcement, Garmin said it expects to expand its list of aircraft models approved for the GFC500 to include the Piper PA-28, expected in the first quarter of 2018, and the Beechcraft Bonanza 35S/35V, expected in the second quarter of 2018.

The GFC500—which has a starting price of $6996—is approved via the STC for interfacing with Garmin’s own G5 electronic DG for autopilot heading command and nav tracking, plus the display of autopilot mode annunciation and flight director command bars when interfaced with the G5 attitude indicator. The price of a GFC500 with a single G5 DG instrument is just shy of $10,000, not including installation. Garmin said that third-party indicators are not approved.

Compared to analog retrofit autopilots from other brands that were engineered over 30 years ago, the GFC500 makes use of a deep digital interface—something buyers will expect in a modern system. In addition to envelope protection (including overspeed and underspeed), the system has a coupled approach go-around feature when it is interfaced with Garmin’s GTN750/650 panel GPS navigators. In that interface (which requires the optional GAD29 navigation adapter), a single push of the go-around button activates the loaded missed approach in the GPS and the autopilot flies the procedure. The system is also compatible with Garmin's GNS530W/430W navigators and Garmin's navcomm radios.

The GFC500 is equipped with Garmin’s ESP feature, which stands for electronic stability and protection. As it does in Garmin’s integrated GFC700 system for the G1000 and G3000 integrated avionics suite, ESP works in the background and is independent of the autopilot’s mode controller. For example, if preprogrammed airspeed, attitude and bank angles are exceeded (based on the aircraft’s flight envelope), the system inputs light control force in an attempt to nudge the controls back.

As proven in experimental aircraft applications, the GFC500’s drive servos should reduce maintenance efforts. That’s because the GSA28 “smart” servos use brushless DC motors and don’t have a mechanical clutch and shear pin arrangement for slipping the controls during pilot override. Instead, there’s a geartrain and internal engagement clutch that allows for back-driving the motor.

For a deeper look at features and performance, including a flight trial of the GFC500 in a Cessna Skyhawk, watch this video, and read a full report on the system in the September 2017 issue of sister publication Aviation Consumer magazine.

The GFC500 for the 172 Skyhawk and 182 Skylane are shipping now and must be installed by an authorized Garmin dealership. Visit www.garmin.com. 

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Air Museums Offer Winter Attractions
 
Mary Grady
 
 

Aviation museums are often busiest in the summer, when families take vacation time, but winter can be the best time to explore their collections, when the museums are less crowded and offer respite from the cold. This month, the New England Air Museum, in Windsor Locks, Connecticut, will hold an Open Cockpit Day on Jan. 13, offering visitors a chance to climb aboard its historic aircraft, including a Lockheed F-104C Starfighter and a Bell UH-1B “Huey” helicopter. For those who prefer to stay warm at home, the Smithsonian’s National Air & Space Museum in Washington, D.C., now offers free apps that enable users to experience a “virtual-reality” tour of three of the museum’s most famous artifacts.

The VR Hangar apps use real data from 3-D scans to create virtual tours of the 1903 Wright Flyer, the Bell X-1 Glamorous Glennis and the Apollo 11 command module Columbia. The app is optimized for use with Google Cardboard and similar devices, and is available free in the iOS and Android app stores. The museum also live-streams many of its speaker events online for free. Coming up on Feb. 7, John Mather, of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, will give a talk about the James Webb Space Telescope.

Picture of the Week
 
 
Jeff Edgerton, of Shasta, CA, was the only contributor to take time away from the celebrations to send us a photo and as many of us shiver through a colder than normal holiday season this shot of Wilson Bar, Idaho reminds us that better times are just around the corner. Happy New Year from all of us at AVweb.

See all submissions

Brainteasers Quiz #239: Have A Little Fun, Already
 

The FAA can be so serious when discussing regulations and safety of flight -- which are important -- but many of us began flying simply because it was fun. To keep it safely enjoyable, simply ace this quiz.

Click here to take the quiz.

Short Final
 

I had just departed a famous airport and proceeded on course.

Tower:  Cessna XYZ, what is your heading?

Cessna XYZ:  XYZ heading Southwest.

Tower:  Cessna XYZ, what is your heading? 

Cessna XYZ:  XYZ heading Southwest.

Tower (agitated):  Cessna XYZ, I need to know your heading 

Cessna XYZ:  XYZ heading Southwest.

Tower (very agitated):  Cessna XYZ, fly heading 225 degrees


Joe Serdynski

 

Shock Cooling: Time To Kill The Myth
 
Rick Durden
 
 

Some years ago, I had one of those “what in the world are they thinking?” conversations with a pilot who was towing gliders as a volunteer for the Civil Air Patrol. While he thought it was important to volunteer for a good group, he was ready to quit because of a screwy power reduction procedure imposed on the pilots by someone high up in the organization. The procedure was ostensibly to prevent cylinder cracking due to shock cooling during descent after the glider released. However, the procedure he described took so long that, even if the glider did several minutes of soaring during its flight, it was on the ground well before the tow plane. As a longtime tow pilot, this struck me as ludicrous.

The anti-shock-cooling exercise required a series of small reductions in manifold pressure, each followed by flying around for a period of time before making the next, while the airplane descended slowly, burning lots of fuel. If shock cooling actually existed and caused cylinder cracking, it would probably be cheaper for the operation to have bought a bevy of cylinders and kept them on hand for replacement than pay for the fuel they were going through to avoid a phantasm.

I used to be astonished at how aviation myths, particularly when it came to engine operation, have such incredible staying power. Now, when I hear one spouted, I just shake my head in admiration of the influence of ignorance and belief over data. With some folks, the laws of physics, aerodynamics, metallurgy and thermodynamics are trumped by unwavering faith in their particular superstitions.

Nevertheless, when aviation superstitions get in the way of safe, efficient engine operation and addressing real risks of damage to engines, they need to be exposed for the nonsense they are, particularly when they are adversely affecting others—such as the glider operation that could only get off a few flights an hour. Such practices, especially when they are taught as fact to new pilots, only perpetuate the foolishness.

The widely respected Daniel Patrick Moynihan put it eloquently: “Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not his own facts.”

There is absolutely no hard evidence that making a large power reduction will cause cracking of the cylinders of a horizontally opposed piston aircraft engine. Because people like examples, we’ll start with a few: Bob Hoover regularly shut down and feathered the engines on his Aero Commander Shrike during airshows—going from max power to none—and never cracked a cylinder. That’s consistent with what skydiving and glider tow operators have known for decades—their engines hit TBO without much in the way of cylinder problems, even though they descend rapidly at low power settings. Flight schools, with their repeated touch and goes, don’t go through cylinders at a disproportionate rate.

Let’s look at the numbers involved in engine cooling, starting with the small role that the cylinder fins play. Only about 12 percent of the heat generated by combustion departs from the engine via the cooling fins. The biggest proportion, 44 percent, goes out the tailpipe. Eight percent, almost as much as is handled by the cooling fins, is dissipated through the oil. Much of the rest is dissipated via the big, metal prop bolted to the crankshaft.

The engine manufacturer that has published data on the potential for shock-cooling damage—Lycoming—said to avoid the risk of damage, pilots should limit CHT reduction in flight to 50 degrees F per minute. The good news is that, even assuming such a rate of cooling will damage an engine—Lycoming said that damage potential existed only if done "consistently"—it’s nearly impossible to cool an engine that fast in flight even by shutting it down. In an article written by Kas Thomas more than 20 years ago and reprinted in AVweb, he went through the published test data—which showed that cutting engine power by half only reduces CHT by 10 percent or so. That kind of CHT drop isn’t capable of trashing cylinders—and isn’t anywhere close to the CHT change that occurs in the opposite direction on takeoff—shock heating, so to speak. And there’s never been any data to indicate that the massive shock heating during takeoff harms the cylinders.

Thomas also pointed out that flying through rain reduces CHTs by nearly as much as a 50 percent power reduction. There’s no history of airplanes regularly flown through rain having to constantly replace cylinders.

In fact, the real shock cooling comes at the end of the flight when you pull the mixture to idle cutoff and the CHTs drop at more than 100 degrees per minute right away—yet every engine goes through that sort of shock cooling and manages to survive it.

In the last 20 years, graphic engine monitors have become common in general aviation—and the data they provide further support conclusions reached before they were around regarding the minor effect of big power changes. Many monitors are set to alarm if the CHTs show a drop at a rate of more than 60 degrees per minute. Pilots are discovering that it’s nearly impossible to hit that rate without slamming the throttle shut and diving—which isn’t comfortable for anyone in the airplane. Mike Busch, A&P and principal of Savvy Aircraft Maintenance Management, told me during a conversation at an AOPA Fly-In that he’s tracked how fast CHTs will drop with various power reductions in his Cessna T310R. His observations were that it unusual to have CHTs drop at a rate of even 30 degrees per minute even with aggressive power reductions when ATC gives a slam-dunk approach.

In one of AVweb columnist John Deakin’s excellent articles on engine operation, he noted that when he waited 18 seconds to restart the engine of his Bonanza after running a tank dry, the CHTs only dropped 10 degrees.

In my opinion, It’s time to put the shock cooling myth to bed, so that pilots can worry about things that really are a risk to their safety and wallets—such as runway loss of control accidents. After all, with more than 25 percent of accidents that cause damage to the airplane and engine arising from loss of control on landing rollout it seems to me that rather than designing complex power reduction strategies to avoid a mythical risk of damaging an engine, we should be practicing crosswind landings to protect a real risk that actually does damage engines—and the airframes wrapped around them.

Rick Durden holds a CFII and ATP with type ratings in the Douglas DC-3 and Cessna Citation and is the author of The Thinking Pilot’s Flight Manual or, How to Survive Flying Little Airplanes and Have a Ball Doing it, Vols. 1 & 2. 

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