Sunday, October 19, 2014
Friday, October 17, 2014
How would you operate your aircraft
If you knew, at all times, how much fuel you had.
Hard to imagine, isn't it ?
Did you ever have that feeling that you might have put in the wrong fuel starting amount?
Did you really see fuel wash over the tabs?
Doubts about fuel level can creep into any flight.
The statistics of fuel starvation, fuel exhaustion and fuel related loss of power events bear that out.
But it is interesting to see that with a change in technology for fuel level reporting to Magneto Resistive Senders.
Some pilots are finding an opportunity to operate differently.
I'm always surprised you do not fly your 22t topped off, were you taught to fly with minimum fuel? Maybe it's a West Coast thing, but my Cirrus SR22 is always sitting full and I fuel it every time it is at home.Response:
Plane is hangared. Full tanks are heavier and the performance is affected. I carry 20g extra to a location like Vegas.
Friday, September 26, 2014
Wednesday, September 3, 2014
While my aircraft (NA G3 #3813 Perspective) was at Leading Edge Aviation in Tampa for an annual, I had the CiES digital fuel system installed. The crew at LEA had recently received the benefit of Scott Philben's tutelage on the intricacies of this installation, and I was in line next for the retrofit. Two points of observation:
1 - Fuel quantities are now precise and crisp. No longer do I tend to disbelieve fuel gauge indications because of erratic needles.
Now there is no "negotiating" with myself of how much fuel I probably have. The installation includes calibration at 2 gallon intervals from "Zero Fuel" empty to full. In my opinion, the replacement round gauge on the center panel is superior to the Perspective MFD indication. Fuel quantity and balance is abundantly clear.
2 - Choice of shop doing the work is very important. With the changes in wiring harnesses among all the iterations of Cirrus aircraft, there are a several unique and significant distinctions for each application. You need a knowledgable, detail-oriented, and thorough installer. I was fortunate to have one at Leading Edge Aviation.
Contact Steve Miller if you want this job done properly.
Finally, thank you Scott Philben for extending the OSH incentive, motivating me to get this system in my airplane. After seeing the results, I think the discount I received should more appropriately have been a premium paid to you.
Friday, August 29, 2014
Sunday, August 17, 2014
Fuel Gauges: Do they Indicate Properly?
by Tom Bennett, Civil Aviation Safety Inspector, Aircraft Maintenance and Manufacturing, Prairie and Northern Region, Civil Aviation, Transport Canada
There have been multiple incidents of fuel exhaustion over the past few years. In the last issue of the Aviation Safety Letter (ASL), you read about fuel starvation due to improper fuel selector condition. In this article, I would like to talk about another common factor in fuel starvation incidents: fuel gauges that do not indicate properly.
Some incidents were very public, whereas most incidents went unnoticed with the exception of being listed in the Civil Aviation Daily Occurrence Reporting System (CADORS). Some incidents were directly related to poor fuel management by the flight crew(s); however a few came as a surprise to the flight crew, as the fuel gauge(s) still indicated there was fuel in the tanks. An accurate reading of the fuel gauge may have prevented many of these occurrences.
There is some confusion about the need for serviceable fuel gauges. This confusion is especially prominent in the general aviation world. As both an aircraft maintenance and manufacturing inspector and an enforcement investigator, I have heard statements like: “The gauges have never worked properly. I just keep track of time in my tanks,” many times.
Such a statement is contrary to Canadian Aviation Regulation (CAR) 605.14(j)(i), which states: “No person shall conduct a take-off in a power-driven aircraft for the purpose of a day VFR flight unless it is equipped with a means for the flight crew, when seated at the flight controls to determine the fuel quantity in each main fuel tank […]”. This regulation is then carried through in sections 605.14, 605.15, 605.16 and 605.18 of the CARs, to apply to all power-driven aircraft in all nature of flights (day/night visual flight rules [VFR]/instrument flight rules [IFR]).
Furthermore, many aircraft must have their fuel gauges working as per their type certificates. For larger aircraft, especially transport category aircraft, the fuel gauges can be deferred by means of the minimum equipment list; however, this usually involves using other measuring devices installed on the aircraft and making complex calculations.
A common factor in fuel starvation incidents:
fuel gauges that do not indicate properly
fuel gauges that do not indicate properly
Recently, a commercial pilot was fined because one of his fuel gauges was not working while he was operating an aircraft. In this case, as in others, the fuel exhaustion caused substantial damage to the aircraft during the forced landing. The pilot applied to the Transportation Appeal Tribunal of Canada (TATC) to seek relief from the $750. The TATC upheld the Minister’s decision.
The Aviation Enforcement Branch has also sanctioned aircraft owners and operators for unserviceable fuel gauges found during Transport Canada’s oversight activities. The maximum sanctions for an infraction under CAR 605.14, 605.15, and 605.16 are $3,000 for an individual and $15,000 for a corporation. The maximum sanctions for an infraction under CAR 605.18 (IFR) is $5,000 for an individual and $25,000 for a corporation. Inspection, maintenance and repair of a fuel indication system seem less costly, in my opinion.
Another common excuse I hear is that the gauges have always displayed faulty readings or they are too difficult or expensive to calibrate. As an aircraft owner, if you rely on this flawed thinking you are exposing yourself to numerous risks. First and foremost, you risk running out of fuel. This can lead to personal injury/fatality and damage/loss to the aircraft. Second, you are exposed to regulatory action by enforcement (fine or suspension). I think we can all agree that none of these are pleasant outcomes.
For the aircraft maintenance engineers (AME) in this scenario, I have not yet seen an inspection where the functionality of the fuel quantity indication system is not checked. Be careful what you sign for on the inspection forms and subsequently, the maintenance release. Following manufacturers’ instructions for inspection, maintenance and repairs will never lead you astray.
Most pilots and AMEs are aware that any accident or incident results from a series of events; there is never just one cause. Anything we can to do tighten up against the possibility of an error is a step in the right direction.
Crown Copyright and Licensing, Public Works and Government Services Canada
Crown Copyright Clearance CCL FILE # 2011-33369
(c)Transport Canada, Aviation Safety Letter Issue 1/2011