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Oregon Coast: Choose Your Adventure

Oregon Coast: Choose Your Adventure

 

Fall is the best time of the year on the coast, and you have plenty of airports to pick from. 

Welcome to the (Oregon) coast. 

First things first: if you want to try to blend in, even as a temporary interloper, it’s “the coast.” Yes, I know, elsewhere you may take trips to the beach, to the shore, to the oceanside, to the waterfront… but here in Oregon, it’s not any of these, or anything other than simply the coast. 

The Oregon coast is 363 miles long, bordered to the north by the mouth of the mighty Columbia River, where Lewis and Clark first sighted the Pacific Ocean in November 1805. At the southernmost end of the coast, you’ll find the redwood forests of northern California. In between is some of the most beautiful, wild shoreline in the Lower 48, with attractions and outdoor-centric activities to appeal to just about everyone. 

Perhaps you’ll build a sandcastle, fly a kite and take a hike through the dunes, or maybe you’re after no activities at all. The Oregon coast is a great place to grab a well-loved book, a warm cup of cider and a blanket next to a roaring fire. 

A drive to the coast from Oregon’s inland population centers of Portland, Salem or Eugene takes around 90 minutes. Two-lane highways wind slowly up through Douglas fir forests, then over low Coast Range mountain passes before following sparkling rivers down to the sea. 

For those of us who are blessed with the gift of flight, our airplanes can spirit us to the ocean’s edge in 30 minutes or less. From any of the inland cities, it’s only around 50 nm to the Pacific as the Piper flies.

When you begin your descent toward the ocean, you’ll have your choice of 15 airports, evenly spaced along the coast. Your pick will no doubt be guided by your aircraft, your skill, your intended ground destination and the weather. 

It’s time to choose your adventure.

Pacific City: Weekend getaway

Despite its name, Pacific City isn’t a big place. Around 1,000 people call the town home year-round. Pacific City used to be a quiet backwater with a small fishing fleet and a few dairy farms. Things have changed in the past two decades; it’s now a trendy destination in the summer tourist season and the beach can get quite busy (by Oregon standards). 

Fly in to Pacific City in March or November, and you’d never suspect all that hubbub. You might well have the place to yourself.

Activities and amenities at Pacific City are centered around Cape Kiwanda and its signature offshore sea stack, Chief Kiawanda Rock. (Not a typo; the cape and the rock have different spellings.) Chief Kiawanda Rock is hard to miss from the air and even harder to miss from the ground. 

To get to Cape Kiwanda from the airport, walk a few blocks to the west toward the sound of the waves, turn right and stroll up the beach. It’s about a 20-minute walk over the sand to the cape. 

The first thing you’ll notice when you arrive is the funny-looking boats on the beach and the boat trailers backed into the surf. The Pacific City dory boat fleet launches directly off the beach to chase salmon, tuna and rockfish just a few miles offshore. You can charter a boat from one of several operators; to arrange a charter, ask the captains at the beach a day or two before you want to fish. (See Resources for a brief video showing how a dory boat is launched. —Ed.)

Cape Kiwanda is a protected natural area and marine life fills the tidepools. The rocks and pools just to the north of the boat launch give children and adults alike up-close views of sea stars, anemones and crabs. 

Feeling up for a workout? Grab a kayak from Nestucca Adventures and head off into the winding Nestucca Bay estuary. Birdwatching is especially good in the fall. 

If conditions are right, surfers play in the beach break just south of Cape Kiwanda or the point break to the north. Information, rentals and lessons are available from Moment Surf Company. 

If you see surfers here, you’ll notice they wear wetsuits—the Pacific Ocean is cold year-round. Peak water temperatures in the summer rarely exceed 60 F. 

Strong waves, cold water and lack of lifeguards make swimming here (and anywhere else on the Oregon coast) a poor and possibly dangerous idea. Wading is fine, but keep your eye toward the ocean. Occasional large waves have surprised many a beachgoer.

After you’ve explored the beach at
Pacific City, there’s no need to head elsewhere for lunch or dinner. Grab a cold Northwest IPA, a glass of wine—or an iced tea, if you’re flying out soon—and watch the people and boats come and go from a comfortable perch at Pelican Brewing’s beachfront taproom. 

Meridian Restaurant & Bar, just to the north of Pelican, offers upscale dining with locally sourced ingredients and a fantastic view. You’ll want reservations during the high season and on holidays.

Lodging books up quickly, as there are only a few boutique hotels and inns in Pacific City. Airbnb options are usually a better bet on short notice, and if you’re lucky, you may be able to snag one of the units adjacent to the airport.

As for Pacific City State Airport (KPFC), it’s a handful. The runway is a mere 1,860 feet long by 30 feet wide, and there are several buildings and trees near the runway. The runway is at only 5 feet msl and is adjacent to the Nestucca River. The runway occasionally floods. Heed the FAA Chart Supplement’s suggestion to call the Oregon Department of Aviation at 503-378-4880 before using KPFC, especially during the winter. 

Make sure your aircraft and personal skills are suited for operations here. Though the airport is challenging, it also serves to keep the crowds down; I have only once seen the six transient tiedowns full. Other than tiedowns, there aren’t any aviation services at KPFC.

The nearest fuel is at Tillamook (KTMK), which also makes a good alternate. KTMK has longer and wider runways, AWOS-3 weather reporting and a GPS approach with 750-1 minimums. Since it’s inland about 6 miles, Tillamook usually has calmer winds than Pacific City and other airports nearer to the beach. You can rent a car at Tillamook and make the 30-minute drive to Pacific City. If you’re there already, it’s tempting to take a quick detour and stop by the Tillamook Air Museum’s huge blimp hangar, or the Tillamook Creamery for a free tasting and tour.

The Cape Kiwanda area on a busy summer afternoon.
Sunset surf session at Pacific City.
The smiles are worth the challenge of landing at Pacific City.
Newport: Family-friendly fun

Roughly halfway down the Oregon coast, the bustling town of Newport sits on the north shore of Yaquina (pronounced “Ya-kee-nah”) Bay. 

Newport has been an escape for Oregon families since the early 1900s; the Nye Beach historic district was, and is, especially popular. Visitors can browse through art galleries, antique shops or simply just sip a cup of coffee with brunch (the best on the coast) at the Nye Beach Café. The sounds of the ocean are never far away. I’ve always found Nye Beach to be a comfortable, quiet area to stay the night; there are numerous lodging options here and throughout town.

The Bayfront District has a decidedly different feel (and occasionally, an unusual smell). Yaquina Bay is home to Oregon’s second-largest commercial fishing fleet and the Bayfront is very much a working waterfront. The fishing fleet processes most of its catch here, much to the delight of the hundreds of sea lions that inhabit the Bayfront docks. 

The sea lions are easily seen and photographed at the docks next to Mariner Square on Southwest Bay Blvd. If you’re having trouble finding them, just listen for their barks.

You could choose to battle these 1,000-pound pinnipeds for fish scraps, but it’s a safer bet to go to one of several fish markets nearby. I like Fish Peddler’s Market; they have fresh-off-the-boat seafood for cooking at home, and also do an excellent grab-and-go fish ‘n chips. 

Mo’s Seafood and Chowder is an Oregon institution and was a staple of my childhood trips to the coast. There are now several locations on the coast and the original location is in Newport. However, I think there’s better seafood at Local Ocean Seafoods. Beer hounds love Rogue Ales and Spirits’ three Newport locations. 

Newport’s premier attraction is, perhaps unsurprisingly, ocean-oriented. Oregon Coast Aquarium is open daily, both summer and winter. Its mission is “to create unique and engaging experiences that connect you to the Oregon coast and inspire ocean conservation.” 

The museum grounds cover several acres. You can easily spend a full afternoon visiting all the exhibits. My favorite is the Passages of the Deep exhibit, where visitors pass through a series of underwater walkways covering the three different ecosystems (reef, shelf, offshore) present in the nearby Pacific Ocean. For intrepid younger explorers, you can even book an overnight stay in the exhibit. To be honest, I’m not sure how well I’d sleep while surrounded by sharks.

For offseason travelers, the Newport Seafood and Wine Festival features hundreds of Northwest wines and seafood offerings from up and down the coast. The 2019 festival is February 21–24. 

Newport offers some of the most accessible whale-watching on the Oregon coast. Gray whales migrate along the coast in the early winter and again in the late spring. Several charter operators run whale-watching tours from the Bayfront District. A two-hour family-friendly “Sea Life” cruise with Marine Discovery Tours costs $42 for adults and $28 for children. 

For the do-it-yourselfer, drive just a few miles north to Agate Beach and Yaquina Head Lighthouse. You don’t have to climb the lighthouse to spot whales, but you certainly can if you’ve arranged a tour in advance. 

Newport Municipal Airport (KONP) is about 3 miles south of the Bayfront District. The airport is one of the best on the Oregon coast, with two good runways (the larger of the two measures 5,398 feet by 100 feet). KONP has several instrument approaches; two VOR approaches, a VOR-A approach, two GPS approaches and an ILS approach. The ILS and GPS approaches to Runway 16 have minimums of 250-3/4. 

Fuel is competitively priced at $5.00/gal for self-serve 100LL and $3.90/gal for full-service Jet A. The City of Newport runs the FBO and offers a courtesy vehicle during business hours (maximum two hours). For longer stays, you’ll need to call a cab or rent a car. Tiedowns are always available. If you show up on a Saturday in the summer, there’s a free barbecue at noon to welcome visiting pilots! 

A tiny crab found in a tidepool.
The Tillamook Air Museum is housed in a World War II-era blimp hangar, the largest clear-span wooden structure in the world.
Herb-crusted halibut with English peas, rhubarb, turnip, fiddlehead and asparagus.
The brave can spend a night and sleep with sharks in the Oregon Coast Aquarium’s Passages of the Deep exhibit.
Manzanita/Nehalem Bay: “Roughing it”

Nehalem Bay State Airport (3S7) is a treasure for visiting pilots. Touch down, then taxi off the paved runway and onto the grass. Pull into the clearly-marked tiedown area and shut down. Unpack and pitch your tent in one of the several campsites nestled in the trees, just a few hundred yards from the beach. You’re home for the night at Nehalem Bay.

The Oregon Department of Aviation and Oregon State Parks have made six fly-in camping spots available exclusively for the aviating public. In Oregon, standard campsites at state parks are by reservation only and are often booked several months in advance. That’s not the case at Nehalem Bay’s fly-in campground. The sites are first-come, first-served and are seldom full, even on the busiest summer weekends, though you might want to come in on Thursday to guarantee a spot. 

Camping is $11 per night, per plane. That gets you access to the park facilities, including water and hot showers. For a few bucks, you can pick up a bundle of firewood from the camp host. During the summer, rangers present nightly interpretive programs about local history and wildlife at the park’s amphitheater. Pack an inflatable kayak and you can launch it right off the end of the runway to explore the bay.

The beach is about a 10-minute walk to the west through the trees; those with more energy can hike to the Nehalem Bay Jetty, a 5-mile roundtrip from the campground. Walking a mile to the north will have you in downtown Manzanita. To get to town you can also take the scenic route, via the beach.

Nehalem Bay is a straightforward small airport (the runway is 2,350 feet by 50 feet) when conditions are benign. You’ll fly your downwind over the ocean, turn base and cross over the sand spit, and then turn north on final. Final puts you over Nehalem Bay; the runway threshold is only a few feet from the water. 

Here’s the catch: when it gets windy, Nehalem Bay will bite you. There’s high terrain to the north of the airport, and on summer afternoons, strong winds can spill over and cause all sorts of unpleasantness at the surface at Nehalem Bay. Be ready to go around and/or divert if the conditions exceed your comfort level. 

Nehalem Bay has no aviation services, but Tillamook (17 nm to the south) has fuel and can serve as a diversion.

Whale-watching tours leave daily from Newport’s waterfront during the summer and fall.
Nehalem Bay is tucked into the trees, just a short walk from the ocean.
Planning your flight

You’ll want to keep an eye out for forest fire TFRs in the summer and fall. Fire TFRs often affect routes to and from the inland population hubs. Smoke can also affect in-flight visibility.

All but one of the airports along the Oregon coast are non-towered. Fourteen coastal airports share three radio frequencies: 122.7, 122.8 and 122.9. Make sure you’re on the right frequency and announce your position as well as the relevant airport. En route, I like to monitor 122.9; it’s an unofficial frequency for low-level traffic along the beach. 

Several MOAs overlie the Oregon coast and nearshore waters. I have never seen military traffic in any of these MOAs, but you should nonetheless check notams for current status.

Many of the rocks, islands and reefs near the coast are part of the U.S. National Wildlife Refuge system. These refuges are marked on VFR sectional charts. Pilots are requested to maintain a minimum of 2,000 agl above these refuges. Low flights that disturb wildlife are a violation. 

Flying over the beach and out over the water is part of the adventure and allure of flying along the coast. Prudent pilots will maintain an altitude that allows for a safe emergency landing ashore should an unexpected loss of power occur. Beaches are usually the best option for forced landings. 

Much of the land along the coast is rocky or tree-covered. Still, land is likely a better bet than an offshore ditching in the ice-cold Pacific. For extended routes over water (as found on IFR T-route T257), you will want to bring a life raft, life vests and an extremely reliable engine (or better yet, bring a twin). 

Weather considerations

You’ve probably heard it rains a lot in Oregon—you’ve heard right. It certainly does rain, in the winter and spring. The rainy season typically extends from mid-October until mid-April. Moisture-laden storm systems roll ashore every few days and drop their cargo as they ascend the slope of the Coast Range.

Even during prolonged stormy periods, the skies will often clear up long enough for a VFR flight as bands of clouds and rain pass through. Winter winds are usually more problematic than visibility and ceilings. Icing is a concern, especially when colder systems descend from the Gulf of Alaska bringing the freezing level close to the surface. 

For as much as it rains in the winter, it doesn’t rain much at all in the summer. However, the best weather on the Oregon coast is not during the height of the summer tourist season (June–August). Summertime is fog time and wind time. Coastal fog can appear in the blink of an eye. I’ve had to hasten a departure more than a few times as the fog bank approached the airport. 

Summer surface winds are nearly always out of the north and can approach 40 knots in the afternoons and early evenings. Schedule your flights to arrive and depart early in the day and winds are usually a nonissue.

In my opinion, fall is the time to go. But if you pick your days (or bring your instrument rating), there’s great flying to be had year-round.

September is the warmest month of the year along the Oregon coast. There’s usually very little wind; the fog machine slows down and there is less traffic both in the air and on the beach. 

Fall brings warmer air temperatures and clear skies. 
VFR or IFR?

You can certainly travel the coast VFR in a VFR-only airplane—I do, quite often—but you’ll run the risk of having to divert or cancel more often than if you hold an instrument rating and fly an all-weather aircraft. 

An instrument ticket will help you get to the coast—even if you’re unable to get in to your VFR-only airport of choice, you can land elsewhere, rent a car and drive the rest of the way. That’s a big deal if you’ve got a weeklong non-refundable hotel reservation. 

Four of the coast airports have GPS approaches, and three have ILS approaches. Though these approaches won’t be of much help in winter high winds, they will certainly assist in punching through the pesky summertime 600-foot-agl marine layer.

From a smiles-per-mile perspective, do everything you can to make your flight on a clear day. You want your passengers’ noses to be pressed against the side windows, watching the ocean for whales and the treetops for bald eagles. It’s not nearly as fun to stare at the inside of a cloud.

Each one of Oregon’s 15 coastal airports has its own story and set of things to see and do nearby. Load up your family and friends, start your engine and point your trusty bird toward the ocean and all the Oregon coast has to offer. I look forward to seeing you there!

Though you can land under VFR, will you be able to leave?

Scott Kinney is a self-described aviation geek (#avgeek), private pilot and instructor (CFI-Sport, AGI). He is associate editor for Piper Flyer. Scott and his partner Julia are based in Eugene, Oregon. They are often found buzzing around the western U.S. in their vintage airplane. Send questions or comments to .


RESOURCES >>>>>

PILOT AND AIRPORT INFORMATION
Pacific City, Nehalem Bay and
other state-owned airports
https://www.oregon.gov/aviation/Pages/State-of-Oregon-Airports.aspx

Newport Municipal Airport FBO
newportoregon.gov/dept/onp

VISITOR INFORMATION
Oregon Coast Visitors Association
visittheoregoncoast.com

Travel Oregon
traveloregon.com

PACIFIC CITY
Dory launch at Pacific City
youtu.be/Al5H_r4EZvw

Meridian Restaurant & Bar
headlandslodge.com/dining/meridian

Moment Surf Company
momentsurfco.com

Nestucca Adventures LLC
nestuccaadventures.com

Pelican Brewing Company
pelicanbrewing.com

Tillamook Air Museum
tillamookair.com

Tillamook Creamery
tillamook.com

NEHALEM BAY
Nehalem Bay State Park
oregonstateparks.org/index.cfm?do=parkPage.dsp_parkPage&parkId=142

NEWPORT
Local Ocean Seafoods
localocean.net

Marine Discovery Tours
marinediscoverytours.com

Mo’s Seafood and Chowder
moschowder.com

Newport Seafood and Wine Festival
seafoodandwine.com

Nye Beach Café
nyebeachcafe.wordpress.com

Oregon Coast Aquarium
aquarium.org

Rogue Ales and Spirits
rogue.com/meeting-halls

Yaquina Head Lighthouse
blm.gov/learn/interpretive-centers/yaquina

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My Engine is 50 Hours from TBO…

My Engine is 50 Hours from TBO…

When it comes to what to do when your engine reaches TBO, your choices range from doing “everything” to doing “nothing.”

The following is an excerpt from Bill Ross’ 144-page book “Engine Management 101.” Published by Superior Air Parts, Inc., the book is a compilation of what Ross has learned during his 36-plus years of experience as a pilot, aircraft owner, piston aircraft engine industry leader and FAA A&P/IA.  

TBO —what does it really mean? 

Today, there are many in the industry making a case for flying the aircraft until it breaks and not necessarily adhering to manufacturer’s recommendations for continued airworthiness. To me, that’s just asking for trouble. 

How do you know when the aircraft will “break?” Will it be on short final at your home airport, or at night, in the clouds, with your family on board? Is the risk worth it to you? I certainly hope not. 

My opinion is you can safely fly past TBO without consequences if you and your maintenance provider follow the engine manufacturer’s recommendations.

The ABCs of TBOs

Let’s look at the term “time between overhauls” (TBOs). The FAA requires manufacturers to publish a TBO for each of their engines. These aren’t numbers that are pulled out of a hat. The engine manufacturers establish these recommendations based on typical maintenance and typical engine operation. 

Engines are required to have both an accumulation of actual operating time and calendar time recommendations. Mistakenly, many pilots try to “extend” their engine’s overhaul—and the cost thereof—by not flying as often as they should. The fact is, lack of consistent use is probably one of the worst things you can do to an aircraft engine. 

Aircraft engines that are sedentary for many months, and sometimes years at a time, are more likely to have internal damage than those that are maintained and flown regularly. Most engine manufacturers recommend that if the engine is going to be inactive for six months or longer, it should be preserved in accordance with their respective instructions.

TBO: Your time has come

One of the questions I get asked most frequently about TBO is whether an owner should overhaul or replace their engine. It’s a good question, and it has more than one answer. Fact is, when your engine reaches overhaul time, you basically have six choices:

1) Purchase a new engine.

2) Purchase a rebuilt engine.

3) Have your engine overhauled.

4) Patch the engine of leaks, address any low compressions and accessory issues. 

5) Wait too long.

6) Do nothing. (Really. That is an option.)

OPTION 1: Purchase a new engine.

When you purchase a new engine, every part is new and meets factory-new specifications with zero time, a new serial number and a factory-new warranty. 

Aside from those points, there is really no technical benefit to the new engine. It will not necessarily provide you with any more power, smoothness, better performance or longer service life than any of the other options we will discuss. 

OPTION 2: Purchase a rebuilt engine. 

Rebuilt engines are different from overhauled engines, even though people often use the terms interchangeably. The rebuilt engine is assembled at the engine’s original manufacturer using various parts from the manufacturer’s used/reclaimed stock. 

When rebuilding an engine, the manufacturer is not required to disclose the total hours (i.e., total times) on those “stock” items. Therefore, you could have a crankshaft or crankcase that has a lot of hours or several previous TBO intervals on it. 

Nevertheless, rebuilt engine components must meet factory-new fit tolerances, but specific parts can be machined undersized to meet specifications. There is nothing inherently wrong with this practice, but it could result in an unusable crankshaft at the next overhaul. 

Rebuilt engines are issued new serial numbers and granted zero-time status by the manufacturer. 

OPTION 3: Have your engine overhauled.

Historically, an engine overhaul has been the most economical option for aircraft owners. During an overhaul, your original engine is sent to a third-party overhauler, where it typically receives new cylinder assemblies, hardware, gaskets, bearings and other piece parts. 

The overhauled engine is not granted zero-time status. The engine’s total time is continued from the point of overhaul. For example, the engine may have 2,000 hours and zero time since major overhaul. The engine still has 2,000 hours total time. 

An overhauled engine, if worked up by a reputable facility, can greatly enhance the aircraft’s value. Why? Simply because it keeps the engine/airframe serial numbers as matching pairs. That means a lot to some owners.

OPTION 4: Patch engine leaks; address low compressions and accessory issues.

Patching the engine should be only considered if the internals of the engine are determined to be in good condition. That means no metal in the filter, and oil consumption is within the limits set forth by the manufacturer. 

Most aircraft engine failures that I have investigated or have performed analytical inspections after the fact, failed due to either a malfunction in the fuel delivery or ignition system. Therefore, always follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for continued airworthiness for critical items including the magnetos, alternator and the fuel delivery system. Like the engine as a whole, each of these components have specific service intervals that should be followed. 

For example, ignition systems typically have 500-hour inspections, and some have requirements for overhaul after four years in service or five years from date of manufacture. 

Remember that doing a preflight runup and magneto check at the end of the runway is not always an indicator of good ignition system health. Preventive maintenance can go a long way in providing enhanced reliability and safety.

OPTION 5: Wait too long.

One of the airplanes my father and I own had the original engine it was delivered with back in 1966. When we purchased the aircraft, it only had about 1,200 hours total time. Many of you might think, “Wow, it had lots of time left on the engine.” Which it did… 

…but we were continually repairing oil leaks, reworking accessories and worrying about becoming stranded away from home base. 

This continued for a number of years until one day I was performing an oil change. I invited my daughter to ride with me around the patch in order to warm the engine oil. We came back, landed and removed the cowling for draining the engine oil. 

When the oil began to flow, I noticed what looked like pieces of metal flowing from the drain hose. That’s not good. I pulled the oil screen and we could almost read the part numbers for the metal coming from the engine. 

I remember the look on my father’s face. It wasn’t a look of financial distress, but rather, relief. Now we had a valid excuse to overhaul the engine. The trouble here is we could have waited too long. 

Not only was it a risk to our safety to push the envelope on this engine, but also by continuing to fly it, we could have done irreparable damage to the engine that would have been more costly to repair than a standard overhaul. 

OPTION 6: Do nothing.

You read it right: the last option is to do nothing. By definition, TBO is just a “recommendation.” It’s not a law. Many engines go beyond TBO and perform very well. 

But before going that route, you need to have a thorough evaluation of the engine’s current state. Questions that I ask of owners that question me about going beyond an engine’s TBO are:

1) What is the calendar time since the engine was new or last overhauled?

2) What is the oil consumption?

3) Do you have any persistent oil leaks?

4) Have you discovered any wear material in the oil during analysis? 

5) What is the reliability of the accessories including the magnetos, alternator, carburetor or fuel injection system?

6) What price do you put on your peace of mind?

7) What price do you put on the safety of you and your passengers?

While there are plenty more questions I could ask, these seven hit the high points when it comes to an engine’s overall health—or lack thereof.

My engine has plenty of life left!

It may well, but you should also ask yourself this question: what is the calendar time since the engine was new or last overhauled? 

Why does that matter? Remember, inactivity of an engine can be very damaging due to internal corrosion. That fact that an engine has low operational hours does not mean a thing to me.

For example, look at the ads that list aircraft for sale. I have never once seen an ad that actually stated the engine’s calendar time. You see many with 500 or 600 hours since major overhaul or since new all the time. 

What buyers should be asking is, “What is the engine’s actual calendar time?” and  “How long has the engine been sedentary?” Generally, you would like to see the aircraft flown at least a couple of times per month. 

“Oil, that is...black gold. Texas tea...”

Another critical thing that helps determine the overhaul health of an engine is its oil consumption. Does it have any persistent oil leaks? Or have you discovered any wear material in the oil during analysis? Regular oil analysis can be a very helpful diagnostic tool.

With regard to oil consumption: are you constantly filling the oil every time you fill up with fuel? If so, your engine is likely a candidate for replacement or overhaul. Increased engine oil consumption could be the result of actual engine usage, leaks or a combination or both. 

An old engine that is beginning to show these symptoms is probably getting close to needing overhaul, replacement or significant repair. The question to ask yourself is: how long can I continue to bale the engine together?

To TBO and beyond

I am not advocating that you rigidly adhere to your engine’s recommended TBO numbers, but the manufacturer is required to provide one as a point of reference. 

Clearly, you can safely fly past TBO, provided you follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for determining continued airworthiness of the engine. Those owners and maintenance providers that follow the proper maintenance guidelines will beat others to the engine’s TBO numbers and beyond through overall lower operating costs and improved safety. 

Basically, if your engine is not producing abnormal wear metal, has good compressions, does not consume oil at an alarming rate and is maintained in accordance with manufacturer’s instructions, more times than not, you can safely fly past TBO without any issues. And there are folks who do it day in and day out. 

My point here is that you can expect long life out of your aircraft’s engine if you take care of it and do the maintenance and inspections when and how the manufacturer recommends.

Bill Ross is a graduate from the University of South Alabama and was employed by Continental Motors for 15 years holding positions in engineering, analytical, air safety and technical product support. Ross is now Vice President of Product Support for Superior Air Parts and committed to the company goal of making flying affordable. When not working at Superior, Ross can be often found flying his family’s 1941 Boeing Stearman, working on antique aircraft or exposing young people to the joys of flight and potential careers in aviation. Send questions or comments to . 

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