Product Reviews & Company Profiles (28)
Next Generation Radar, NEXRAD, displays bring near time weather information to general aviation aircraft. Single engine aircraft safe operation takes a quantum leap when the pilot can look ahead and make routing decisions long before being surrounded by angry clouds.
August 2014- The new Insight Avionics GX-MFT offers three engine function displays in one easy-to-read, three-inch LED instrument. The instrument shows manifold pressure, fuel flow and a tachometer display, plus in-depth electrical system analysis.
Insight expects approval of its STC application by both Transport Canada and the FAA very soon.
June 2014- First off, let's get one Old Aviators Tale ("OAT") out of the way right now. It's safe to install retreaded aircraft tires on retractable gear airplanes.
For decades a rumor has circulated that retreaded tires should never be installed on a retractable gear airplane because the retreads came out bigger or would grow during use and would somehow jam in the wheelwells after being retracted. This falsehood caused many an owner to shy away from considering retreaded tires.
The rumor may have had some basis in fact years ago, but not anymore. I asked Desser President Steve Chlavin if there was any truth to this story. Chlavin replied, "Every retread must comply with the same specifications as a new tire."
This means that a Desser retread can't be any larger in circumference than a new tire. Some people get confused when they visually compare a newly retreaded tire to a brand-new tire; the retread will appear larger than the new tire. Here's why.
The retreading—the removal of the old rubber, preparation of the core (carcass) for new rubber, the winding on, balancing and baking of the new rubber—is done on a tire core that has already been stretched due to a normal inflation process when a tire is put into service. The new tire, when compared to the retread, is smaller since it hasn't yet been inflated and stretched.
Every tire stretches during the initial inflation. If you don't believe it, order a retread for your retractable landing gear airplane, mount the tire and inflate it in accordance with the aircraft service manual.
You'll have to wait 24 hours for the tire to reach its dimension since stretch averages three percent, then retract the gear into the wheelwell. If you have any doubts about the fit of a Desser retread in the wheelwell, return it for a full refund.
Need further proof? Beechcraft service manuals contain a sentence that while not recommending the use of retreads advises that they may be used as long as the retreading was done by an FAA approved repair station in accordance with Technical Standard Order (TSO) C62c (now C62e). This TSO is the same order that regulates new tire construction. A retread must have the same measured outside circumference as a new tire.
So if a retread isn't an operational concern, and since retreads are less expensive than new tires of the same size and ply rating, why is there a reluctance to buy retreads?
What about the alligator argument?
When I asked Chlavin about this hesitation, he replied that one anti-retread argument originates from people that cite examples of huge chunks of tread—sometimes called "alligators"—that are often seen along highways. These have been thrown off of retreaded tires used by over-the-road trucks.
Chlavin explained that any retreaded—or new—tire will throw tread if it gets too hot. These "alligators" are thrown off of truck tires that have overheated due to continued running after the tire has suffered a puncture and is deflated; since the load of the deflated tire is taken up by the adjacent tire, the driver doesn't know the tire is deflated and continues to drive.
Eventually the tire gets very hot and the tread departs. That never happens on an airplane if it's properly maintained.
To further assure us of the soundness of retreaded tires, our group followed a tire core through the process.
Test after test
Upon receipt every tire sent to Desser is visually inspected for wear, flat spots and sidewall cracking. According to Gus Segura, Desser's Repair Station Quality Assurance Manager, wear into two fabric plies (cords) is acceptable for transport- or commercial-grade tires—if all other checks are good. GA tires with ply (cord) wear cannot be retreaded.
The next check on tubeless tires (there aren't many of these used on GA airplanes) is an air pressure test to determine if the liner is good. The liner is the inner part of the tire. Air pressure is applied between the plies for approximately 30 minutes; only limited leakage past the liner is permitted. "The liner is the key factor [in the soundness of the tire]," said Segura.
After passing the liner leakage test the next step is to remove what Segura calls the "old" rubber. Each tire is mounted on a mandrel that swings the tire in the proper sized arc for that size tire back and forth across a many-toothed grinding wheel.
After the correct amount of rubber is removed, the tire surface is rough and clean. The surface must be kept clean to insure a good bond between the tire carcass and the new rubber.
The tire is again mounted on a mandrel in front of a large, computer controlled machine. The operator selects the proper rubber program for the tire—the Orbitread process is used—and inserts rubber into the machine where it's heated to approximately 230 degrees F before it's spit out in a strip that's approximately two inches wide and slowly wound onto the rotating tire. The operator applies pressure by hand as each strip is laid down.
After 90 to 120 seconds the thickness of the layers is checked at numerous points around each tire. If it's correct the tire is passed on to the pre-balance station where balance is checked. If needed additional strips of rubber are applied to bring the balance into line.
After pre-balancing is completed the tire is put on a rack and moved to the molding area.
Segura said the company has 60 molds of various sizes. Each mold is specially made to simulate a tire rim on the inside and establish the outside dimension and tread pattern. "We have equipment from five or six retreaders that have gone out of business," said Ken Faire, Vice President at Desser.
The pre-molded tire is mounted on the rim and put in the mold. Air pressure is applied to push the casing out against the mold where it's held at temperatures of 300 to 305 degrees F for 70 to 120 minutes depending on the size of the tire. This bonds and shapes the retread rubber.
Final testing: laser shearography
After cooling, each tire is inspected using a process called interferometric laser shearography. According to the Desser website, "Laser shearography is very sensitive to slight changes in surface strain due to subsurface flaws, and it is able to detect imperfections and defects such as belt-edge separations, bead blisters, undercure, liner separation and broken cord and ply construction in aircraft tires."
There's no FAA requirement to conduct this type of testing, but Segura told me that the shearography testing inspects each Desser retread to seven different readings that will detect unseen shears and separations.
Once a tire passes this final test, it's passed on to one more station for the final balance check and adjustment if needed.
Lastly the proper paperwork is generated (Form FAA 8130-3, Authorized Release Certificate, Airworthiness Approval Tag) and the tire is tagged.
This process has been fine-tuned over years, and Desser recaps around 25,000 tires a year.
Some owners ask if it's smart to reuse a tire core. Segura answers by saying that Desser believes a good core can go through five retreadings; some business jet and airliner tires are recapped at least eight times before the core is retired.
According to Chlavin, the standard for GA tires is one retreading. There's a core suitability checklist on the Desser website; see Resources at the end of this article for more information.
Owners have a number of recap purchase options. First, they can send in their own tires and have them recapped to Desser standards. That way they know the history of the tire. Segura said the turnaround time is around two weeks.
Customers can also send in their tire cores and exchange them for certified retreads that have the same make core. For example, if you like Michelin tires, you can specify that you want a recap with a Michelin core. Chlavin told me that Desser does its best to accommodate each request.
Another option is to send in your cores and have the value applied to a new tire purchase.
Lastly, you can send in your cores and ask for the cash value.
You want new tires? Desser has those, too
Desser is one of the premier FAA approved tire retreading companies in the United States, yet retreading is only part of Desser's business model. In addition to the 50,000 square foot facility in Montebello, it also has a 100,000 square foot facility in Memphis, Tenn.
The company shipped over 100,000 new tires and specialty tires last year and is a stocking dealer for Dunlop, Goodyear, Michelin, Condor, Specialty Tires of America (McCreary) and Desser's own Aero Classic Specialty Tires and Tubes.
All of these tires—and all Desser retreads—can be ordered directly from Desser through its website or through stocking dealers.
Over 150 tires and plies are available from Desser. Desser Tire also offers free shipping (within the 48 contiguous United States) on all orders over $100.
History and growth of the company
Desser was first established in 1920 as a scrap rubber dealer; by 1941 the name was changed to Desser Tire and Rubber. At the close of World War II, Myron Chlavin, Steve's father, started buying aircraft tires. Steve Chlavin began working for his father after high school and is now president of the company.
Desser Tire and Rubber grew with the acquisition of Omni Air and later with the purchase of the wheel and brake repair station of Aero Wheel and Brake in 1994. Aero Wheel and Brake provides a full wheel and brake services for Boeing, Lockheed, Honeywell, Raytheon and other corporate clients.
In 1998 Ken Faire came over from Herber Aircraft with the purchase of Cee Bailey's Aircraft Plastics.
Desser also has held contracts to provide wheels and brakes for the SR-71, U-2 and the NASA 747 used to transport the Space Shuttle to Florida. Since shipping of large tire/wheel combinations is costly, a pickup and delivery service is provided in the Southern California area.
Cee Bailey's windshields and support products
Desser manufactures windshields and side windows as needed for a number of OEMs under the Cee Bailey's name. Replacement windshields and side windows are available for almost all GA singles and twins in clear, green, or the newer solar gray tints.
Other support products sold under the Cee Bailey's name include cowl plugs, CeeShade sunshields, Rosen Sunvisors, and window and windshield cleaning and care products. (Visit Cee Bailey's Aircraft Plastics at ceebaileys.com. —Ed.)
LeakGuard® tubes, vacuum system components, batteries and more
In 2002 Desser started manufacturing the LeakGuard inner tube. Since tires and tubes stretch during use, a new inner tube should always be installed whenever a new tire is mounted. Natural rubber tubes were the standard for decades in spite of the fact that they leaked; and since underinflation results in shorter tire life, these tubes needed to reinflated often.
The LeakGuard tube is made of butyl rubber and is much more leak resistant. The only drawback with the butyl rubber LeakGuard tube is how stiff it gets in colder weather. "In Alaska, it is hard to sell the butyl tube, as the natural rubber tube takes a colder temperature coefficient range than the butyl," said Faire.
Desser also stocks Rapco products including brake discs, rivets and pads; and vacuum system components such as suction and pressure regulators, filters, dry air pumps and isolation check valves for multi-engine vacuum systems.
Concorde and Gill Batteries in the most common flooded cell and sealed battery configurations are in stock, as well as Gill and Concorde chargers and capacity testing equipment.
I needed a set of original smooth tread 8.00 x 4 tires for the 1939 Piper J-3 I was rebuilding. Fortunately, I discovered that Desser makes these—and during our recent visit to Montebello, we found they also make other obsolete and hard-to-find tires.
The Cub tires weren't inexpensive, but they were available—and they added that final right touch to the restoration. The owner couldn't be happier.
Desser is the go-to place to get tires of all shapes and sizes. I found that the free shipping on all orders over $100 combined with very competitive prices to be a powerful incentive for putting the Desser URL in my "Favorite Aero Parts" folder.
October 2005- Penn Yan Aero in Penn Yan, N.Y. has been in the aviation engine overhaul business for a long time now—60 years—and they’ve maintained an excellent reputation for good work from nearly that first day.
Begun as an aviation repair shop in 1945 by Harold “Eagle” Middlebrook (who passed away three years ago at the age of 86), Penn Yan Aero has been a family-run business all of these years.
While Penn Yan Aero currently has plans to do some extensive expansion to their physical facility in the near future, they have no intention of moving from the Penn Yan Airport (KPEO) in upstate New York. It’s the only location at which the company has been since that first day of operations in 1945.
September 2005- General Aviation aircraft standard instrumentation includes an ammeter or current load meter to monitor your electrical system. Electrical power is a combination of Volts x Amps = Watts, or power.
An ammeter tells you only half of the story. In addition, the indicator charging condition is typically only a needle width difference between charge and discharge conditions.
Visual Instruments manufactures an easy to read and install voltage monitor. If your 14-volt alternator fails, the bus voltage difference between charge—13.5 volts—and discharge—12 volts or less—jumps right out in your face with changes in color and position on the voltage monitor.
July 2005- When I recently changed aeronautical directions by selling my light twin and moving into a two-seat sport airplane, I knew that I needed to also change my entire outlook on what sort of onboard navigation gear I’d add.
The airplane arrived at my hangar with a bare minimum of electronics—one communications transceiver, one transponder with altitude encoder, and one small handheld GPS mounted on the glareshield.
I knew that I could use a little more, but what? And at what cost, both in dollars and panel space?
Since the mission statement for my new airplane was for basically only VFR flying (but with onboard IFR-capable gyros, just in case some rain, fog or dark of night crept into our en route plans), I certainly couldn’t justify the sort of equipment that I used to haul around.
On top of that, not even a fraction of my previous FAA-approved gear would fit into the instrument panel, neither in height, width nor depth. So I began to search around in rather unfamiliar territory—VFR GPS equipment—to find out what was out there that might be just right for me.
When Noel Allen surveyed aircraft damaged in windstorms he found a pattern. The tiedown rings on most of the PA-28 Cherokee series had broken.
He noticed something else, too: the OEM rings were created to sit at a 90-degree angle to the fuselage, while the rope tiedowns were stretched at an angle. This configuration put stress on the rings—side forces sometimes exceeding 2,000 pounds—in a windstorm.
Allen had an idea for a better tiedown and as an aerospace structural engineer, he was in the unique position to do something about it.
Avionics is where the action is (and has been!) for some time in aviation. It seems as if each month brings a new, relatively low-cost gadget or app designed to increase situational awareness, monitor aircraft systems or otherwise improve the lot of pilots.
This month, we’ll look at a product that’s been around for a few years and it’s a device that fits the “big bang for the buck” paradigm: Zaon’s passive collision avoidance system (PCAS), the PCAS MRX.
Last month I spoke about my hunt for a navigation system to go into my new sport airplane and, after investigating the possibilities, I settled on a portable GPS system from True Flight (aviationsafety.com; 866-443-3342).
The unit I purchased—a Flight Cheetah FL250—had a large and bright display screen, a remote-mounted computer box and a plug-and-play interface with the WxWorx Data Link to provide satellite weather reception.
I’ve operated the unit for the last few months and I’m basically pleased with its performance. But first, let me list the disclaimers—which I’ll begin with by quoting myself from last month’s article: “True flight is a small company and, as such, there are some minor gaps in the things they are doing.
I have long felt that the most significant dangers GA pilots face are related to their own judgment rather than their skill at the mechanics of flying. I’m sure I’m not alone among readers of this magazine in having lost a few acquaintances in aircraft accidents, the circumstances of which sadly reinforced this feeling.
Accordingly I have been perplexed by the nearly complete lack of judgment-related instruction in both private pilot and instrument training. Why is the most frequent cause of accidents and fatalities completely ignored in training that is supposed to produce “safe pilots?” Thus I was very interested when I learned of the King Risk Management Course instructional videos on exactly this subject.
Garmin D2 Pilot Watch-
Move over, Dick Tracy: a new era in nifty watches has arrived. The new Garmin D2 Pilot does everything but catch the bad guys. GPS enabled with direct-to and nearest function buttons on its side. Interfaces with Garmin Pilot app. $449.00 msrp
Earwings? These 18k white gold hoops will make a great gift for the female aviator in your life—even if that's you. $695.00
He's gone country—backcountry flying, that is. And if he has, make sure he's got a way to keep in touch. DeLorme's inReach SE is a portable satellite communicator. Send and receive text messages via satellite—no cell phone coverage needed. Follow me/find me tracking. Durable; waterproof, dustproof and impact-resistant. $299.00
ZULU-03 Directional Gyro Vintage Watch 9062VW-
Wear this watch and you'll indicate a high degree of style. Luminescent hands over a vintage directional gyro image. Solid 316 Stainless Steel and Black PVD case with a silicone rubber strap. $369.00
Classic Aviation Films Six-DVD set-
History really does repeat itself, because you'll want to watch these DVDs over and over. Aviation history buffs will love this collection of six DVDs that chronicle the history of flight from Kitty Hawk to Cape Kennedy. $42.95
If you’ve just been winging it when it comes to displaying your aviation collectibles, help is on the way. This clever shelf looks like a Piper Cub down to its spinning propeller and detailed engine. Perfect for a kid’s room or pilot cave. Painted resin 7.5”h x 14”l x 7.5”d. $59.99
Classic Instruments Coaster Set-
Share your love of flying and keep your tables "ring-free" with this set of four coasters based on vintage style cockpit instruments. Sturdy acrylic. 3.75" diameter. $15.99
I’ve been a Flight Guide user for longer than I can remember. For many years one of the iconic little brown loose-leaf binders covering the Western States had a place in my flight bag—and more than once came in very handy when I needed to find an airport with a nearby hotel or restaurant.
To be honest, I was a little annoyed when Flight Guide switched to the current larger format for its paper product. It now takes two of the larger throwaway spiral bound books to cover the same area—but the larger format is easier to read, so at least one of those books still flies with me on every cross-country trip.
While the books are extremely well laid out, with a detailed diagram and notes for every public-use airport (and less detailed but still useful information for low-use and military fields) in the coverage area, they have always suffered from two problems.
The first is that unless you buy and carry all the books, you won’t have coverage for the entire country. That’s an issue if a flight takes you outside your coverage area. On my two trips to Oshkosh from the Left Coast, I’ve used Flight Guide for the start and end of the trip, then switched to AOPA’s Airport Directory (which isn’t nearly as detailed).
The second issue is common to any paper-based source for aviation information: it can easily get out of date. The current spiral-bound books are updated annually, and quite a lot can change in a year. Flight Guide deals with that by offering a web-based online version that’s available on its own for $19 per region, or free with the paper-based version (which sells for $24.95 per region).
The trouble with a web-based service is that you can’t access it in the air—which is where I’ve found Flight Guide most useful. Of course you can continue to carry the paper version (as I do) but that tends to get out of date. To get the best of both, you’d need a way to get an electronic version of the data on a device that you can carry with you.
The folks at Airguide Publications (publishers of Flight Guide) thought of that, and offer several electronic products. If you own a Sony PRS or Amazon Kindle eBook reader, you can get Flight Guide eBook for $35 per region. Essentially, that gives you an electronic version of the pages in the printed books.
On the iPad, though, Airguide chose to offer something much more extensive: FlightGuide iEFB is a nearly complete Electronic Flight Bag app, offering not only Flight Guide’s traditionally excellent airport data, but also flight planning, DUATS-based weather briefings, and electronic charting features.
In part one of my Insight engine monitor pirep (Piper Flyer, January 2013), I described the G3 engine monitor’s operation and its diagnostic and data logging capabilities.
This month, I’ll focus on how the G3 engine monitor got installed, along with how the 22 sensor leads were wired in order to make all those features light up on the liquid crystal display.
The journey starts with configuring the G3 monitor to fit your aircraft.
Insight does not have a one-size-fits-all approach to engine monitor configuration, which is readily apparent from the beginning: the company’s website includes a separate order form for each G series model.
I ordered the G3 instrument, and this form featured lots of additional questions to properly configure such a full-function engine monitor. The first six sections were straightforward and asked for owner and installer contact information. The remaining questions involved details about aircraft make, model and year; engine make and model; buss voltage; plus specific sensor type and size information.
The website describes and shows pictures of these sensors and how to select the sensor for your aircraft. The fuel flow sensor selection highlights an important difference between aircraft: fuel flow sensor options vary for fuel injection versus carburetor installations and mounting locations. Prior planning for necessary AN fittings to insert the sensor in the fuel line will help the project go smoothly later on.
Insight’s technical support is available when questions come up. They will assist with selecting the correct configurations and discuss installation options with you.
For example, I wasn’t sure whether or not to keep the OEM carburetor air temperature gauge. At first I thought I wanted to keep the 2 ¼-inch gauge, but after giving it some thought, I decided the best course of action was to remove the OEM gauge and use the Insight carb air temp, which is logged on the SD memory card. (For more information, take a look at the “Why is That?” section in Part 1. There I discuss how logging this variable helped me find the best temperature to improve fuel air distribution.) Sometimes it’s hard to let go of something that is old and familiar, but moving on was the right decision.
Recently I flew with my friend Dean in his single engine aircraft. I was photographing our friend’s newest airplane, so I opened the window. This rather large opening created lots of fresh air. And lots of wind noise.
Dean and I just shouted back and forth to each other (cross-cockpit, that is) to communicate. Even though it was a relatively short flight, I could feel that my vocal chords were strained after we landed.
Now I am climbing out as the pilot a larger aircraft, which obviously creates a greater amount of wind noise than in Dean’s plane. I never realized how loud it was in this cockpit, either, until I donned my new Sennheiser Digital S1 headset. All that air rushing up over the nose of my plane has been reduced to what sounds like a very light breeze.
After turning on the headset’s active noise reduction, it gets even more unbelievably quiet in the cockpit. With ANR canceling out all of the unwanted noise, I’m able to hear other, more important things. Like the radios.
With a Sennheiser S1, I can listen to the ATIS while still monitoring the active ATC frequency. I was not able to do this in the past—with other headsets, that is. Before, I would always have to completely turn down one of the radios to hear the other radio. This headset is so quiet that all I hear is the beginning and end of the trim motor engagement.
The audio quality is by far the best of any headset that I have worn in the past. However, if the audio is not to your liking, you can adjust it manually by changing the bass and/or treble. Everyone’s ears are different, so this is a great added feature to make the S1 sound even better to you.