October 2019

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Subscribers Only - The anonymity many groups are seeking is at the aircraft level. For years, operators have been able to block their registration from appearing in the FAA’s Aircraft Situation Display to Industry (ASDI) data stream, preventing the public from tracking the aircraft. Both the 978 UAT and 1090ES standards transmit registration in a non-encrypted 24-bit ICAO code specifically assigned to each aircraft.

Brave New World

Toward the back of the magazine you’re holding in your hand, in our Quick Turns department, there’s a news item about the FAA formally transitioning to the ICAO-standard/international flight plan form for all domestic non-military operations. If you’ve been paying attention over the last few years, as we have, you’ll be happy to know a process that has seen several earlier deadlines come and go seems to have finally staggered across the finish line. As of August 27, the international flight plan form is the law of the land, so to speak.

ADS-B Shenanigans?

Thank you for printing in August’s magazine the short letter I wrote, highlighting an issue I encountered just south of the Albany, N.Y., Class C airspace—a Cub showing an ADS-B altitude of 500 feet below sea level. (By the way, I passed the same Cub today at very close range. This time he wasn’t showing up at all on ADS-B). In your response, you asked readers to report other anomalies, so here’s one from a week or so ago.

Picking Up The Pieces

Subscribers Only - I spend a lot of my flying in the Idaho backcountry, where there are a lot of challenging but worthwhile airstrips. But it's not a forgiving environment since go-arounds can be problematic and density altitude means pilots may not be accustomed to the reduced performance. After decades in the business, Patrick has a lot of lived experience seeing a wide variety of crashed planes, especially in the backcountry. As a window into answering the eternal question "Why do pilots crash?" I felt his insights would be valuable.

All Or Nothing?

Subscribers Only - The question is as old as the powered aviation itself: Assuming a single-engine airplane, if power is lost immediately after takeoff, should you land straight ahead or try to get back to the airport? This magazine has often addressed the question, including a January 2006 article by spinmeister Rich Stowell. Rich detailed the results of a simulator-based study examining "the feasibility of successfully executing a 180-degree turnaround following an engine failure at 500 feet agl." The study concluded that practicing the maneuver boosted its success rate, but landing straight ahead (or nearly so) had a higher success rate.

Top Five Owner Maintenance Tasks

Subscribers Only - The FAA's FAR 43.3 says "the holder of a pilot certificate [other than a sport pilot certificate] issued under Part 61 may perform preventive maintenance on any aircraft owned or operated by that pilot which is not used under Part 121, 129, or 135...." Appendix A of FAR 43, meanwhile, details what tasks are considered "preventive maintenance." Everything we're suggesting in this article flows from Part 43's definition of what constitutes preventive maintenance (PM). If you're not afraid of getting some grease under your fingers, you can save a lot of time and money performing regular maintenance tasks yourself. Here are our top five projects you may consider performing.

Riding Shotgun

If you're like me, one of the first goals I assigned myself after earning my private pilot certificate was to add the instrument rating. For other pilots, VFR-only flying may be where adding certificates and ratings stops but the education continues. The daunting task of putting trust fully into your instruments and air traffic controllers is a bridge some pilots won't cross. But in the natural progression of pilot certificates and ratings, adding the instrument rating is a common goal after getting through the private checkride.

Airworthiness Concerns

Yet, as with all airplanes as time marches on, wear and tear take a toll on the way various mechanisms work, and better designs often are available to replace them. That's especially true when it comes to the PA-28 fleet's sidewall-mounted fuel selector, the current design of which now is in its third generation. The original design-generation 1, or Gen1-did not have much in the way of a detent protecting against inadvertent repositioning, nor does it prevent over-rotation leading to unintended movement to the OFF position. These characteristics aren't the most desirable in a fuel selector assembly, especially since the component is mounted in the sidewall under the pilot's left knee, where it can be difficult to view.

Unwarranted

Subscribers Only - One special category of pilots are those for whom going fast is important. Why? Because speed is relative. At altitude on a severe clear day, there's little sensation of speed. We have to get close to something before our speed becomes apparent. And the risk with getting close to something is we might hit it. While untrained pilots who engage in such risky behaviors aren't the norm, there's enough of them that the practice has its own term: unwarranted low flying. Its use apparently has fallen out of favor, but the phrase "unwarranted low flying" has populated numerous NTSB reports over the years.

NTSB Reports

The pilot purchased the airplane the day prior to the accident. He departed the airport and performed maneuvers in the local area, then returned and completed four normal wheel landings. On the fifth landing, at about 30 mph, the tailwheel settled to the runway. When the tailwheel touched down, the pilot stated he felt a rumble "like a machine gun" and the airplane veered to the right. He applied left rudder, and the airplane subsequently veered left off the runway, the right main landing gear collapsed and the right wing spar sustained substantial damage when it impacted terrain. Examination revealed the tailwheel was cocked to the right, perpendicular to the fuselage.

Throttled

After the airplane was returned to me, my gut was telling me something was wrong. Some of the work was, in short, a bit sloppy. I took this as a sign to go over everything, including 10 hours of high-speed taxi tests before the first flight, but clearly it wasn't enough. I recall looking at the throttle and how unprofessional it looked, in particular, "full throttle" on the right side only opened the throttle to 75 percent. The left seat throttle lever opened and closed the carbs fully, so I decided I could live with it.

Fuel Pump Problems

Fuel flow was erratic, with a slight fuel leak from pump drains. Inspection revealed debris in servo screens. Teardown report showed drive couplings pitted, blades and liners scored, rotors worn. Debris in servo filter appeared to be pieces of the liner. Replaced both pumps. (The same engine-driven fuel pumps (p/n 200F5002) were installed new at engine overhaul. They were replaced at 372 hours and 389.7 hours. The pumps removed had 776.3 and 794.0 hours.