Unicom

July 2001 Issue




Ticking Ice Bomb

Dry ice is nothing to mess with in an airplane, fire or not

As a college physics professor who uses dry ice in class, I want to underscore the danger of putting dry ice in any container that can be sealed. Pat Veillette intimates the danger: “...perhaps you have considered placing the dry ice in a tightly sealed container...you have created a pressure vessel...those have inherent risks. The situation gets even worse if you have a fire.”

This beats around the bush. It should be emphatically stated that dry ice in any sealed container will create a bomb whose time or force of detonation is not easily predictable.

The container could be a hard plastic ice chest with latching lid! Nor do you need a fire to make the situation worse. A few ounces of dry ice in a two liter polycarbonate pop bottle will explode with amazing force...without a fire to help it along. Even if detonation doesn’t cause physical damage to the aircraft, in a small airplane cabin, the sudden explosion may blow out ear drums or stun occupants enough to lose control.

My supplier of dry ice, Penguin Brand Dry Ice (1-877-736-4846) packages the ice in bags clearly marked with the various dangers that Pat notes, particularly: “Do not place dry ice in air-tight containers as they may explode.”

-Jan Dabrowski
Marylhurst, Ore.

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Doctor, Doctor, Gimme the News
The only eye doctors who are MDs are ophthalmologists. Even though others may carry the title “Doctor,” they are not Doctors of Medicine. “Digital Pilot” [Proficiency, May] implied otherwise.

Regretfully, some AMEs do give medical certificates with only “thunder and lightning” examinations.

Regarding “Small Consolation” [Unicom, May], I would just like to say to Mr. Blakemore that a “professional pilot” is not just one who makes a living flying, but also one who approaches flying with a “professional” attitude!!!

-Charles Nicholson
Via e-mail


In his article, Mr. Miller was not implying that an optometrist could issue a medical certificate, only that any vision specialist may let mediocre vision slide – probably without considering the impact it might have on the patient’s ability to fly.

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Piper’s Customer Service
I read with interest the comment from Gary Schmidt regarding maintenance problems with his 1999 Piper Saratoga [Unicom, May]. I have a 1998 Piper PA32R-301 Saratoga IIHP. I acquired this aircraft new in October 1998 and have now approximately 480 hours on the Hobbs meter. I have experienced three major maintenance problems that I feel should not have occurred.

First, in July 2000, on a trip from South Carolina to Michigan the fuel servo malfunctioned and was replaced under warranty by Piper. Second, and third, on two separate occasions within the past three weeks first the left magneto (460 hours) and then the right magneto (475 hours) failed and had to be replaced.

After the left magneto failed, I had my mechanic check both magnetos. The left coil was defective and the right appeared fine. We replaced the left magneto. Less than 15 hours later the right magneto failed and had to be replaced.

My understanding from my mechanic and the area Piper distributor is that magnetos need to be inspected at 500 hours, but are supposed to last much longer. Other than these problems my experience with the Saratoga and Piper has been excellent.

-Peter Frolich
Via e-mail