Maintenance - Page 11 Aviation Articles

Pietenpol (Home-Building) Instructions: Step One - You Gotta’ Have Faith

 

         On a chilly Friday in October, I met a man with ambitions unlike anyone I have ever met before. Building an aircraft completely by hand from the ground up might not seem so astonishing at first; so marinate on that for just a minute. For 10 years, Jeffrey Faith has owned and traveled by way of a 1947 Cessna 120. This aircraft is fast enough for long distance travel says Mr. Faith, and with clear certainty he states that it is absolutely a blast to fly, nonetheless it bores him. So, in an eager search to rekindle his passion for flight, Jeffrey pursues a mission to once again find the adrenalin in which he seeks.

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                   In 1928 Bernard H. Pietenpol designed a homebuilt version of the parasol fixed wing aircraft. The very first prototype became known as the Air Camper and it has proceeded to become an absolute sensation; one of the very first successful homebuilt airplanes ever created. By 1932 Bernard’s success was published in Flying and Gliding magazine, incorporating a step by step manual and reprints provided by the Experimental Aviation Association (EAA) on how to build your own Pietenpol aircraft at home. In the 1920’s, although production throughout the United States was moving quite rapidly, we did not yet have means to make an aircraft from ideal or modern materials that might be seen in production today. The Air Camper was designed with an all wood airframe and it was typically composed of Sitka Spruce with either Birch or Mahogany plywood; this was developed to be considered a “value” aircraft (if you will). One of Bernard H. Pietenpol’s original goals with this airplane was to create a masterpiece that was not only affordable but also easy to construct and original. The Pietenpol Air Camper is not available in a kit; therefore each piece of plywood must be made by hand. As one might imagine, this is certainly no walk in the park. In order to produce an aircraft such as this, basic woodworking skills, hand tools and patience are nothing less than necessary.

         Originally the Pietenpol Air Camper was designed to be powered by a Ford Model-A automobile engine; however, since 1929 several hundred have been built, and various engines have been procured and used. Due to the design of the aircraft, the Pietenpol Air Camper is typically considered to be “low and slow” with an average cruise speed of 65 mph.

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              In 2010 private pilot Jeffery Faith keeps himself busy and keeps his passion alive by building and producing handmade transportation. This includes a refurbished and modernized 1930’s model truck that he has since sold. This also includes an open-cockpit biplane known as a Ragwing Special. In fact, it was in this very biplane that Mr. Faith first soloed and acquired his license to pilot. He has since sold this masterpiece as well and is in hot pursuit for his next big project. As the pieces of Jeffrey’s puzzle were beginning to fall together he found a copy of the 1932 Flying and Glider Manual Magazine providing the EAA reprints for the Pietenpol Air Camper. Coincidentally, his neighbor had a spare Ford model-A engine; all Jeffrey could do at this point was to give the Pietenpol Air Camper a go. He missed his open-cockpit biplane, so let the games begin!

         On average, the Pietenpol Air Camper generally tends to take most home builders anywhere from five to ten years to complete. This is primarily due to the time intensive labor that goes hand in hand with this aircraft being entirely handmade. Jeffrey Faith glued the very first ribs of his Pietenpol together on Nov 1 2010 and is now officially in the home stretch of completion; finishing in an astonishing two years. Along with completing his aircraft in such a timely manner, he also did his best to keep his purchases local. Mr. Faith built this aircraft directly out of the magazine and he primarily used the AC4313 FAA handbook as his reference. This was his guide for finding and grading different characteristics of wood and it was because of this book that was able to find wood strong enough for his future fuselage. Generally speaking, the ideal wood of choice would be spruce wood that comes out of Alaska, however, since Mr. Faith chose to go local he was opted out of choosing this particular wood and had to research in order to find a commendable substitute.  What he found was Light Popler Douglas Fir and White Fir. Once he had acquired the necessary quantity of wood he used a 100 year old band saw and hand tools to hand carve the propeller.
          As of October 22, 2012 Jeffrey Faith has completed his aircraft almost entirely. Within the month he plans to receive an FAA regulated inspection as well as airworthiness certificate. Once these mandated regulations have been completed Mr. Faith’s Pietenpol will be complete and ready for takeoff. - Yes he plans to show off his masterpiece! Every year, the weekend before Oshkosh there is an annual Pietenpol fly located in Brodhead WI. This fly in usually incorporates anywhere from fifteen to twenty Pietenpol airplanes along with multiple airplane people who are interested in and fly the Pietenpol aircraft. This just one of Jeffrey’s many plans for the future of his most recent masterpiece.

          For anyone who may be interested in building an aircraft of their own, don’t worry, I’ve done the question asking for you. When asked what he might say to fellow plane builders, Mr. Faith states that “anyone can build an airplane. The thing to remember is, work on it every day. Never look at the big picture it will only discourage you; look at the little pictures all and along the way and one you will look up and see your finished product.” Most importantly, Mr. Faith advises the builder to enjoy every minute of it and if you’re anything like Mr. Faith, you might just “like the building part more than the flying part!”

         “I call it Piet (Pete)” says Mr. Faith. There you have it fellow pilots, this is the trick! When the Cessna 120 gets boring, build a Pietenpol Air Camper! The best part is, according to Mr. Faith, “contrary to popular belief, there is no black magic involved in the building of the Pietenpol!” So here it is, this is the spark that Mr. Jeffrey Faith has been seeking all along; the same spark that he seeks to revive his passionate flame for flight.

To see how very personalized the Pietenpol Air Camper can be visit: Westcoastpiet.com. Mr. Faith says that the coolest part about this aircraft is the originality and the personalization involved. By visiting this website you will get the opportunity to see previously developed Pietenpol aircrafts and view their cosmetic differences such as paint, engines, landing gear, etc.

Question to my readers - Rumor has it that the Pietenpol Air Camper handles similarly to a Piper Cub. If you have ever flown in one of these, please let us know! We would love to hear your input!

Kentucky Institution For Aerospace Education - Reaches For The Sky


MISSION: to improve student learning in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) and create career pathways in aerospace throughout the Commonwealth of Kentucky.

         Albert Ueltschi, born in 1917 and was raised in Franklin County, Kentucky. Ueltschi attended high school in Franklin County and eventually developed the school’s first ever aeronautical course in 1946.

         Decades later, a man by the name of Tim Smith is teaching an algebra mathematics course in this very same high school. Since algebra is often as mentally straining as rocket science, one might presuppose that this subject does not typically come as natural to the average 15 year old. Mr. Smith recognized a potential problem as he watched his students struggle. With this, he began to generate a brilliant solution!

         Mr. Smith began studying; he was searching for a way to reach out to his adolescent peers. He longed to find a method of teaching that would allow room to engage in fun, yet educational activities; both inside as well as outside of the classroom. According to Mr. Smith, students always ask where they will use what they have learned in school throughout their real lives. Without a reason for learning, these students are likely to approach important topics with a lack of motivation and according to Mr. Smith; this lack of motivation creates poor learning habits in students. “Mathematics and science are tough enough for kids as it is. So why not give them what they are asking for?” says Mr. Smith. The STEM program was developed to reach out to these students, providing hands-on training in aircraft technology with hopes of making difficult school subjects more relevant and fun for students, while quietly boosting state test scores as well. He intends to show his students how subjects such as science, technology, engineering and mathematics are relevant in the world and he intends to teach these skills through aviation. “Why not restore and rebuild old aircraft?” He says. With that, The Kentucky Institute for Aerospace Education was developed.

         As Mr. Smith continued with his research he discovered and learned of Albert Ueltschi and his achievements in aviation at Frankfort High School. “During Ueltschi’s time, the aviators were the rockstars!” Mr. Smith exclaims. “Everyone wanted to grow up to become a pilot, and when people looked up to the sky what they saw were heroes. Now, it seems our students don’t look up at all, growing up to become a pilot is not even considered an option.” He states. Educators hope to use the Kentucky Institute for Aerospace Education hand in hand with the STEM program to change this theory. Aviation is in fact a very attainable goal; especially for high school students who have been offered the opportunity to jump start their careers through programs such as the Kentucky Institute for Aerospace Education. An event such as “Aviation Day” out of Capital City Airport is just one of many events that this Institution is reaching out to; all with high hopes of inspiring young adults in our community. According to Mr. Smith, the Kentucky Institute for Aerospace Education simply wants to show young adults how aviation can be a very real opportunity for them. “This is definitely an opportunity that has the potential to change their lives” says Mr. Tim Smith.

         During the first 3 years, the Kentucky Institute for Aerospace Education maintained their program out of Frankfort High School. Only one other school in the area had caught on so they simply worked together. However as more of Kentucky educators began hearing about and sharing this fantastic opportunity, the program grew immensely. Today, a mere 7 years later the program has expanded to include 15 different high schools throughout the state of Kentucky. They have acquired and built a total of 8 aircraft, 2 of which are airworthy and now in use for student training. Recently the Kentucky Institute for Aerospace Education was offered a generous donation of land from the Capital City airport of Frankfort (FFT) as well as the Kentucky Department of Aviation for the production of their program’s soon to be hangar. Through the Kentucky Institute for Aerospace Education high school students are able to examine and experience firsthand what it may feel like to work in multiple fields, while receiving college credit to do it. If a student chooses piloting for example, they are given an opportunity to acquire a private pilot’s license completely free of charge to them. If that is of no interest, other programs are offered including Aeronautical Engineering, Space Systems as well as Operations and Maintenance.

         The Kentucky Institute for Aerospace Education is currently in the process of building a hangar for its students to get more involved. Eventually, the program would like to have an entire facility specifically for the education of its students. This is a 501(c)(3) non-profit program, but with the help of generous donations and grants, Mr. Smith says he would eventually like to see this program offering not only a full staff of teachers, but also specially designed classrooms, aircraft and tools. This is a fantastic opportunity for high school students today. Overall there are a total of 60 programs similar to this one throughout the United States. Of that 60, 15 of those programs are based out of the state of Kentucky thanks to this very program. This is a part 61 training course and there are currently over 600 students involved.

For more information please contact: [email protected]
Or call: (502)320-9490

 

Above are photos of a Cessna 195 that the high school students of the Kentucky Institute for Aerospace Education are currently in the process of rebuilding. All of these parts have been salvaged and will be refurbished entirely. Mr. Smith says the objective for this aircraft (as for many others) is air worthiness and eventually student training.

Dutch Mid-Air Collision Caught On Video

Article by: www.aero-news.net

Both Airplanes Manage To Land Safely After Being Briefly Stuck Together

Two airplanes chartered by Dutch political parties were briefly stuck together after they collided in mid-air ... and the incident was captured by a cameraman aboard one of the aircraft.

The two aircraft were flying over a beach in Wassenaar in the Netherlands. One was towing a banner for the Christian Democrat political party, the other had members of the country's Socialist Party on board. A person on the Socialist's plane was taking video when the two airplanes collided, and the tow plane's landing gear became embedded in the other aircraft's wing.

The planes were flying at an altitude of about 450 feet when the incident occurred, according a person who was on board one of the aircraft. In the video, which appeared on Netherlands television NOS and has been posted on YouTube, the planes are seen briefly out of control before they separate.

Both planes reportedly landed safely, according to a report appearing in the U.K. newspaper The Mail. The airplane with the damaged wing landed on the beach, the other made it safely back to Rotterdam airport. No one on board either plane was injured. The incident is under investigation by Dutch aviation authorities.

(Image from YouTube Video)



Time to make the Budget!

Unfortunately, many of us see budgeting as a fruitless exercise and a waste of time. But, budgeting is a very important tool for planning an organizations use of its most limited resource - cash. Managing the cash is critical for any business, or individual. (Please, no replies about governments!) Failure to plan for the incoming and outgoing cash has ruined many a business. And it can negatively impact your flight department.

 

A budget is just estimate of the future showing the peaks and valleys of cash flow.  A budget can also serve as a benchmark for evaluating actual versus planned for expenses.  Every organization must budget whether it goes through a formal or an informal process.

 

As an aviation manager, the budget is more than just filling a square for your upper management reporting. It is a very useful tool that can enable you to track the effectiveness of your aviation operation. It can also alert you to the future peaks in expenses, such as scheduled major maintenance or an aircraft upgrade.In fact, for an aviation operation, maintenance is one of the largest expenses, and one in which the aviation organization can have the most control.

 

As part of your budgeting process, I’d like to offer three tips to help you get started.

 

Tip 1. Ask for Information. This information flows two ways. Ask upper management about their intended aircraft usage for the next year, or ideally, several years. Will there be more or less flying, any new destinations, etc. If you are budgeting any optional maintenance items or upgrades, ask if next year or the year after works better for the financial goals of the company. 

 

Tip 2. Document Your Assumptions. Things are different in January than they were the previous September and they will be changes as you go through the year.  Your budget is a best-estimate of the future costs for your aviation operation. As flight activity occurs, are you ahead or behind in the hours flown? How will that change when major maintenance is due? Did you correctly anticipate the magnitude of parts price increases, fuel costs, training costs, etc?

 

By documenting your assumptions, it will refresh your memory when the actual costs do not equal what was predicted. If and when conditions change, these recorded assumptions will better guide you on revising the budget better than relying on your memory.

 

Tip 3. Explain the Nature of Maintenance Costs. These costs can occur in significant amounts (engine overhaul) and be unpredictable (unscheduled maintenance). These are often difficult for a financial manager or CFO to understand. These folks tend to favor stable, predictable cash flows - hence the popularity of a guaranteed maintenance program. You may not be bale to change the behavior of your maintenance costs, but you can explain how the engine overhaul expense took 2,500 hours over five years to accrue. Remember, most non-aviation people have automobile maintenance as their reference point.

 

As a bonus tip, try to visit with the person that you submit your budget to. Try to understand how your aviation budget fits in with the overall corporate budget. Help them to also understand the process that you went through to come up with the budget. 

 

Budgeting is important to the health of your organization. However, to be truly useful, all parties involved need to understand the process. Best of luck to you!

 

Keep Those Older Business Jets Flying

EAA AirVenture 2012 has just wrapped up. If you were fortunate to have gone this year (sorry to say I was not), and I asked if you saw any antique airplanes, you might mention seeing a Waco, a DC3 or Ford Tri-Motor. But what about a Learjet 35A, Citation II or Hawker 700? Early serial numbers of these venerable business jets are well into their golden years as they all were in production during the late 1970s. These and many other business jets are well past age 30.

In our aircraft cost databases, we assume that all the business aircraft are maintained more or less the same way with new parts replacing old, worn out parts. As many operators of long-out-of-production aircraft are finding out, this is not the most cost effective way to keep these aircraft flying.

First off, availability of new parts for older aircraft is becoming harder to find. Some non-OEM vendors are no longer in business, or they have been acquired and merged into different entities. They do not keep production lines open year round or may only build spares as needed.

Overhauling of serviceable components is also getting harder to accomplish. Sure, you can overhaul a generator multiple times, but what about the holes for the mounting bolts? Over time, you can only use "oversize" bolts so often before the component case is no longer serviceable.

To say that avionics have evolved since the mode 1970s is an understatement! Many of these older aircraft use what we euphemistically call steam gages. And relative to today’s technology, that statement is not too far off. Repairing these older instruments is becoming more costly, as are replacements. Glass cockpit upgrades are available, but at what cost?

Perhaps the toughest choices come with the engines. The first and second-generation business jet engines are all into their second, third or fourth overhaul cycle. Guaranteed engine maintenance program rates reflect this with rates much higher than current generation engines. The cost to overhaul a pair of these engines can run to more than the cost of the aircraft itself. Even with fresh engines, a 35-year old business jet will not double in selling price.

Look at the very popular Citation II. According to the Aircraft Bluebook Price Digest (Summer 2012), the selling price of a 1978 Citation II is $650,000. The basic overhaul price is about $350,000 per engine. Add in some cycle-limited items like rotor disks and impellers and the price jumps to over $500,000 – each!

Overhaul a pair of run-out engines on your 35-year old business jet and you will be lucky to get 50% back if you sell it. There are just too many of theses aircraft available for sale and at very low prices.

I have talked with more than one operator of aircraft like these who will not, and cannot, pay for an engine overhaul. Instead they look for a similar model year aircraft with engines in good condition with maybe 1,500 hours remaining until overhaul. They buy the second airplane, swap engines and part the rest out. This recycling method is more cost effective for many of these older business jets.

I doubt values on these “vintage” jets will ever recover. So it looks like we will see a steady dwindling of whole aircraft as we see two aircraft make one flyable aircraft and so on. Keeping these older business jets flying is becoming more of an exercise of scrounging and cannibalizing versus one of replacing/overhauling.

Maintaining older aircraft in this manner requires time, and decreases the aircraft availability. You need to have two or three aircraft to keep one in flyable condition! It can be done, but it is better suited to a flier that can live with low utilization and decreased availability. So enjoy these aircraft now, because it won't be to many more years at Oshkosh before a Learjet 35 is parked next to the Staggerwing!

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