June 1, 2007
Julie K. Boatman
Battery shelf life has been a persistent concern among aircraft owners — anyone who has to leave an airplane for several weeks either tied down outside or in a hangar without electrical service knows the fire drill associated with resuscitating a half-dead battery. A new sealed 24-volt battery from Gill Batteries, a subsidiary of Teledyne Technologies, addresses this problem.
The 7638-44 valve-regulated lead-acid VRLA battery delivers more power and increased shelf life, according to the manufacturer: It is supposed to hold a charge for up to 24 months "on the shelf" and should be rechargeable even beyond that time period. The 24-volt version will be joined by a 12-volt version at a later date. The 7638-44 meets FAA specs and PMA (parts manufacturer approval) and is available through authorized distributors; an online "configurator" helps owners determine which battery best suits their needs. Price: about $1,850 Contact: 800/456-0070; 909/793-3131; www.gillbatteries.com
For decades, most popular light aircraft used aircooled engines, most often built by Lycoming and Continental. That began to change with the introduction of the Dimona Katana, which was powered by a liquid-cooled Rotax engine. Now you'll see even more airplanes on the flight line with these engines, as they are often the powerplant of choice for light sport aircraft hitting the circuit today. Adventure Productions and Aviation Supplies & Academics have teamed up to bring you Rotax 912 Engine Introduction, a DVD that explores in-depth the inner workings of the 912-series engines.
So, it's just a different engine — so what? Well, as it turns out, there are a number of key differences between the Rotax (and engines of its kind) and the traditional engines you find in Cessna 172s and Piper Warriors. First of all, the engine runs at a much higher rpm than a Lycoming IO-360, the standard engine in a new Cessna 172. Although the IO-360 turns over at about 2,700 rpm maximum, the Rotax runs at a maximum of 5,800 rpm. If allowed to turn the prop at that speed, the tips of the prop would exceed the speed of sound (Mach 1); therefore, the engine has a reduction gearbox. This is just the beginning: It also has two carburetors, it likes to run on high-octane auto gas, and you're in trouble if you turn the prop clockwise. Want to know more?
Rotax experts Phil Lockwood and Dean Vogel take you through the engine step by step. Lockwood is the owner and operator of Lockwood Aviation Supply, the largest Rotax service center in the United States and located in Sebring, Florida. Vogel works with Aero Technical Institute, which specializes in Rotax engine maintenance training, also in Sebring.
The DVD is organized into 26 chapters, which cover topics including the water-based cooling system, oil types and indications, use of fuels, and tips for starting and smooth operation.
Sections on frequently asked questions pepper the mix. The 68-minute DVD is well executed, with only some minor variations in sound level. Also, 17 minutes of "extras" provide you with more information on the cylinders, carburetor, electrical system, and crankshaft. Price: $49.95 Contact: 800/272-2359; www.asa2fly.com
The latest tool for the aircraft owner's toolbox from Approach Aviation is the Pocket Mechanic, a multi-use tool with a universal socket kit. The multi-tool wrench comes with an extensive fold-out set of tools that includes: full-size pliers with a wire cutter, four screwdrivers, a file, scissors, a knife, and a wire stripper. The pair of pliers features a three-eighths-inch drive adapter for use with the socket set.
The universal socket fits more than 400 different nuts, bolts, and fasteners. In addition, the Pocket Mechanic has a built-in LED flashlight, and it comes with a nylon carrying case. Price: $59.95 Contact: 877/564-4457; www.approachaviation.com
It's a fact for many of you aspiring instrument pilots: You need a view-limiting device that allows you to read your charts at the same time. Unfortunately, Mother Nature has slowly taken away your ability to read up close without reading glasses. But how do you fit your normal reading glasses under the view-limiting device?
Old Foggies addresses this concern by incorporating reading lenses into the clear lenses on the bottom half of the view-limiting glasses. The customizable lenses come in several power ratings, and in three different lens colors: clear (in power ratings of 1.0 to 3.0), tinted (power ratings of 1.5 to 2.5), and light mirrored tint (power ratings of 1.5 to 2.5). Old Foggies have rubber nonslip nose grips and temple pads, and a scratch-resistant polycarbonate lens. Price: $29.95 Contact: 888/259-7788; www.ifrglasses.com
Founded in Chicago in 1964, Bird-X has been dedicated to the environmentally and ecologically sound removal and deterrent of birds in sensitive areas — such as your hangar, where certain avian citizens tend to take up roost at the smallest opportunity.
Bird-X offers products in four basic categories: physical barriers (needle strips, sticky gels, and netting), sound repellers (ultrasonic and sonic), taste aversions (geese and other bird repellers), and visual deterrents (decoy owls, coyotes, alligators, and iridescent tape).
The company has found that using several products in conjunction (such as a hangar solution that involves netting, a scare owl, and an ultrasonic repeller) is most effective in ridding your space of roosting birds — and the damage they leave behind in the form of droppings, torn fabric, and nests in hidden places on an airplane.
Products are nonlethal and nonharmful to the animals they deter; the company reports often receiving referrals from the National Audubon Society and the Animal Damage Control division of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Price: $45 for a Terror-Eyes Bird Repeller; $495 for an ultrasonic Quadblaster QB-4 Contact: 800/662-5021; www.bird-x.com
Avidyne has upgraded its FlightMax EX500 multifunction display to software version 3.0, which includes additional XM WX products (such as hail alerts, storm tracks, terminal area forecasts, winds aloft, and freezing levels) and the ability to update the Jeppesen NavData and CMax ChartView databases via a USB flash drive. New EX500 units come with the 3.0 software. Price: $345 to upgrade for existing EX500 customers Contact: 781/402-7400; www.avidyne.com
Seattle Avionics recently released version 3.5 of its Voyager flight-planning software, with several upgraded or improved features, and compatibility with the new Microsoft Windows Vista operating system for PCs. Seattle Avionics upgrades its software for users on a regular basis, incorporating fixes and user suggestions as they occur. Contact: 425/806-0249; www.seattleavionics.com
Hartzell Propeller Inc. has received a supplemental type certificate (STC) to install a newly designed three-blade propeller system on Beechcraft Baron 58, 58A, and G58. The 75-inch-diameter, full-feathering propellers are highly swept and feature a proprietary blended airfoil. The price includes two props, two spinners, STC paperwork, and a three-year or 1,000-hour warranty. Price: $24,495 Contact: 800/942-7767 or 937/778-5726; www.hartzellprop.com
Unless otherwise stated, products listed have not been evaluated by AOPA Pilot editors. AOPA assumes no responsibility for products or services listed or for claims or actions by manufacturers or vendors. However, members unable to get satisfaction regarding products listed should advise AOPA. To submit products for evaluation, contact: New Products Editor, AOPA Pilot, 421 Aviation Way, Frederick, Maryland 21701; telephone 301/695-2350. Links to all Web sites referenced in this issue can be found on AOPA Online.
Safety and Education,
The FAA on Feb. 23 issued a special airworthiness information bulletin recommending preflight inspection of Robinson R44 and R44 II main rotors.
AOPA told lawmakers that a tax-abatement bill introduced in Nevada would stimulate aviation business and make more services available to members.
The FAA has released an eight-minute video providing aviation medical examiners with guidance on the agency's new obstructive sleep apnea policy, which takes effect March 2.
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