Instrumentation: Perspective on Risk Management

Builders:

The letter at the bottom below is from Ken Pavlou, Who’s 601 XL has a dual Dynon display. It is some clear thoughts on how instruments are just a part of an experimental aircraft’s flight capability, I think it is worth considering in detail before making a decision on which level and type of instrumentation will be in your plane.

.

In the paragraph immediately below is a link to a story about the crash of Air France 447 several years ago. It was sent to me by builder Terry Hand, who has the perspective of being a former USMC flight instructor and having also flown a global career with a major airline. He has logged more than 20,000 hrs, but critically his experience spans the change discussed in detail in the article.

.

Because the black box of 447 was recovered from the bottom of the Atlantic 2 years later, a great level of detail is known about the last 5 minutes in the cockpit. I have read countless accident reports, and it breeds a certain dispassion, but this article is different, I read it 3am. I had nightmares the rest of the night.

.

What does this have to do with light planes? Easy: earlier this year we had CH-750 pilot with 60hr on his plane fly it into the ground by the exact same method that the Air France crew used to kill themselves. To avoid repeating this it is worth studying and discussing.

.

The pilot took off with his first passenger and climbed away from the runway. At several hundred feet the plane began to sink and would not respond to back stick and climb. Unaware, he responded in the exact same manner as they did to excessive angle of attack, by pulling the stick back and holding it there, not understanding that the planes sink rate was caused by slow airspeed and massive drag, not a reduction of power. He and his passenger lived. Put them in most other light planes, with sharper stall behavior, a Cub or a C-150, and they die.

.

The builder initially told everyone he has a power loss that allowed him to sink into the ground, but after reflecting on the behavior of the controls he quietly realized that he had held the plane at an excessive AOA and let it sink all the way into the ground. contrary to what many people were told, the follow-up tear down  and test run on the engine showed that there was nothing wrong with it, but it was too late for most people to learn that, what they ‘learned’ instead was ‘Corvair engines are unreliable.’

.

What can be done about this? Training. Start by reading this article on departure stalls:

http://flighttraining.aopa.org/magazine/2006/June/200606_Departments_Accident_Analysis.html

————————–

.

“Here is a link to an interesting article on the Air France 447 crash. Note the writer’s last name. (He is the son of the man who wrote Stick and Rudder-ww.)

http://www.vanityfair.com/business/2014/10/air-france-flight-447-crash?utm_source=nextdraft&utm_medium=website#

I thought you might find this an interesting discussion, based upon your studies at ERAU. -Terry”

.

—————————————-

.

“William,  I love flying with my glass panel, but the truth is 99% of my flying to date was done behind a standard six pack of instruments. The bottom line is they work and they work reliably. The reliable part is what interests me more than anything. Glass cockpits can be reliable and often times reduce cockpit workload significantly.

The caveat is you have to know how to use the equipment and understand what they are telling you. I’ve been witness to pilots increasing their risk flying behind a glass panel, even in perfect VFR conditions, simply because they didn’t take the time to master the equipment which led to a lot of fumbling around and taking concentration away from the primary task of flying the airplane. No matter how sophisticated an instrument panel is, it will never improve basic stick and rudder skills, turn you in to an IFR pilot, or replace prudent judgment.

I spent countless hours sitting in my plane after I built my panel with all the instruments on together with their operation manuals making airplane noises and familiarizing myself with all the knobs, buttons and features of my equipment. An important part of knowing your equipment is it’s failure modes. Just like a simple mechanical altimeter can read high, low, or level depending on different pitot-static faults, glass panels can at times produce inaccurate information. For example, On my flight back from Barnwell my Dynon EMS indicated my oil pressure was high. It would blip from the usual 45 PSI to 55 or 60 and back. At first I thought maybe my regulator spring and piston were getting stuck. As a precaution I removed the spring and piston at my next fuel stop. Both items were in perfect condition and functioned as they should. The problem turned out to be some electrical contact corrosion on my oil pressure sending unit.

The point is that computers can’t take the place of critical thinking and decision making. Whether the data they report is valid and how its used is really up to the organic computer embedded inside our heads. -Ken”

.

31pod1398

Grace took the above photo in Ken’s Cockpit at CC#31, before taking off a few minutes after sunset for a local flight.

The Cherry Grove Trophy, 2014

Builders,

Every year at the Barnwell College we award The Cherry Grove Trophy . It is named after Bernard Pietenpol’s home town in MN, the place where the first Corvair was flown by him in the spring of 1960. We award it to a Corvair pilot who has made a lasting contribution to the efforts of other builders.

.

 In 2008 Grace and I had the Trophy made with space for eight years of awards to be engraved on it. Next year, 2015 at CC#35, the last name will be engraved on the trophy and it will be retired, but the lasting contribution of the eight years of recipients will have a strong positive effect on Corvair builders for decades to come. -ww.

.

———————————-

.

Recipients:

.

2008 – Mark Langford – KR2s – 1,000 hrs. on Corvairs; Flew to Oshkosh, SNF, colleges and the KR gathering numerous times. Contributed to flight ops. manual.

.

2009 – Dan Weseman  – Cleanex (and now Panther)- Approx 600hrs in Corvairs, has flown 11 different Corvair powered planes. Flew to SNF and colleges numerous times, positive displays at Oshkosh. Developed most practical 5th bearing; Co-hosted CC#23; Demonstrated aerobatic performance of the Corvair; Contributed to flight ops. manual.

.

2010 – Joe Horton – KR2s – 825 hrs. on Corvairs; Flew to Oshkosh, SNF, and the KR gathering numerous times. Flown to more Colleges than any other pilot; has flown Coast to Coast and back. Contributed to flight ops. manual.

.

2011 – P.F. Beck – Pietenpol – Local Host for Colleges #19, #21, #24 #27, and #31. About 1/3 of all the engines ever run at a college started at Barnwell, these colleges were attended by nearly 400 builders. P.F. has flown more than 250 people in his aircraft. It was originally completed for $6,800 including the engine.

.

2012 – Kevin Purtee and Shelley Tumino – Pietenpol- 345 hrs on plane in short time. Flew to Brodhead several years; Local Hosts for Colleges #22, #28 and #32. Outspoken risk management activists for Piet community.

.

2013 – Phil Maxson – Zenith 601XL – Flew to SNF and colleges numerous times. Developer and moderator of the “Zenvair” discussion group. Contributed to flight ops. manual. N601MX is the only airframe to fly on 2700, 3100 and 3000 cc engines. Tireless contributor of positive energy over a decade.

.

2014 – Ken Pavlou  – Zenith 601XL – Flew 40 hours off, to Oshkosh and to CC#31, logging 165 hours in first 5 months.- Developed application for this website, has run on line sign up for almost all of the last 15 colleges; Local host CC#14; Directly assisted numerous other Corvair builders in New England. Logged 6.5 hrs. giving demo flights at CC#31.

.

————————-

.

IMG_8756

Ken holds the trophy at CC#31 Barnwell 2014. His aircraft is named “The Blue Speedo.”  The humorous origin of the name is best left unprinted and only related verbally between adults with Ken’s sense of humor.

.

31wwr1742

2014 CC#31, the first four recipients repeat a 2011 picture on the same spot:

.

Above,  from Corvair College #21.  Left to right are Joe Horton, 2010 , Dan Weseman, 2009, P.F. Beck, 2011, and Mark Langford, 2008.