Letters

Dogfight: Running Lean of Peak

July 1, 2011

I am certain that lean of peak operations have a place, but that place resides in GAMI or similarly equipped aircraft, and I would be surprised if that number is as high as your writers indicate (“ Dogfight: Running Lean of Peak,” May 2011 AOPA Pilot). Most of my time is with the airlines, but I do fly my 1932 Waco on days off and fly my friend’s Bonanza and 140 as well. LOP has no place with normal (read “older”) fuel systems.

LOP is not a widespread policy as Dave Hirschman seems to suggest, but rather applies to certain engines, and only certain aircraft installations. To back up Tom Horne’s viewpoint, call G&N Aircraft, one of the most highly regarded shops in the United States—they advise against LOP operations. Lastly, I really am not a fan of the ongoing debate-style commentary; there never is a definitive resolution, although that is innate in much of aviation. Could I suggest that for the sake of the weekend pilot’s engine health, that people with carbureted engines be told to follow the manufacturer’s suggested procedure? And that, sirs, is not LOP.

Larry Harmacinski, AOPA 1336476
Cornelius, North Carolina

I am writing because I’m a fan of rich of peak operations, but not for the reasons Tom Horne discusses. I own and operate a 1979 Mooney 231 M20K (no GAMIs). Early this year, I installed an Insight G3 monitor. It’s been well worth the wait and the investment. Simple to use, the G3 is intuitive to find both ROP and LOP settings. I’m a retired Army Cobra pilot, so simple is always a good thing.

Here’s what I found. I ran the airplane on a series of flights comparing ROP and LOP differences in fuel flow, TAS, miles per gallon, percentage horsepower, ETE, and fuel range. I routinely operate in the 12,000- to 17,000-foot altitude range between south Alabama and the Washington, D.C., area. My results for a 12,000 cruise altitude, 2,500 rpm, 72 gallons usable fuel were very interesting. While I was getting better fuel flow and better mpg, when taken into context of time flown on a long trip, I did not gain any appreciative distance—max range only increases 60 statute miles. However, the time to get there was an extra hour of flight time. The extra flight time translates into more money spent on TBO items (engine, prop, service) that far exceeded the 12 gallons of fuel saved per hour for the same distance flown. At the end of a 1,000-mile flight, I will still spend the same amount of money in fuel; I will only do so one hour later because of the slower resulting TAS.

So, if I’m just putzing around the local area, I’ll run slow and LOP (55 percent horsepower) because I’m just out enjoying the sights. However, if I’ve got somewhere to be, ROP is for me.

Tim Rhyne, AOPA 1787684
Enterprise, Alabama

An old salt once told me: “You can cool your cylinders with fuel, or you can cool ’em with air. Most folks understand that air is much cheaper.”

As long as the proper instrumentation is installed, or the engine is round, lean of peak is a piece of cake. Most folks know that carb-equipped flat motors are generally not capable of LOP operations; those that don’t probably spend money on valves.

Mark Frederick, AOPA 0909468
Taylor, Texas

May I suggest you gentlemen just get a Rotax so you can stop leaning at all and hence stop arguing?

Helen Woods, AOPA 1398113
Laurel, Maryland


Pimp my plane

I find it unfortunate that AOPA determined there were no better articles to put in the May 2011 issue, let alone to use as the cover story, than the article about the Piper Comanche with the cover subtitle: “Piper Comanche Pimped to the Max.” Not only was the article mostly frivolous, the use of “pimped” and “bling” could easily be described as juvenile. 

Despite being in the generation I believe this language was targeted for, as well as that which most recently popularized these words, their use lends no credibility to an article already stretching to provide value. I expect more from a publication like AOPA Pilot, and look forward to the quality I’ve grown to know in the coming issues.

Peter Blair, AOPA 5320474
Superior, Colorado

Having owned several Comanches of various models, I took great pleasure in reading the article about a guy that could spend money to make a great airplane better. I noticed some of the old switches on the panel and I hope he replaced all the wiring they were connected to!

Jack O’Neill
Pittsford, New York


Tennessee Time Machine

Thanks for Bob Knill’s great article, “ GA Serves America: Tennessee Time Machine” (May 2011 AOPA Pilot). My wife noticed the story and said, “Hey, that’s like you.”

We have been using the same V-tail Bonanza traveling from Rockford, Illinois, to everything east of the Rockies since 1974. In much the same manner as the T.J. Snow Company, we also fly for pre-engineering meetings, last-minute parts deliveries, and primarily customer service and support for Martin Automatic Inc. 

Our aircraft has saved the collective butts of both us and our customers too many times to calculate. I think part of our success can be attributed to our use of general aviation to further our business.

For field service work particularly, being able to visit with as many as six customers in five days to resolve their issues, the Bonanza has become one of our most valued company assets. It would not be possible for one person to visit several customers in as many states in one week by flying commercial. Our service manager often arranges the schedule to make the most use of the Bonanza.

And I thought I was the only lucky man in America!

Bill Olsen, AOPA 1296024
Rockton, Illinois


Unconventional wisdom

Barry Schiff tells of turning back to the airport after an engine failure (“ Technique: Unconventional Wisdom,” April 2011 AOPA Pilot), but that maneuver has often proved disastrous.

  1. A turn-back from an engine failure after take-off (EFATO) is technically possible in many cases. I acknowledge that.
  2. The data needed to make the determination of whether it is possible is very complex, dynamic, and the mental horsepower needed to accurately access the data is beyond the capability of a pilot in flight.
  3. That means that the decision must be made based on the airmanship (gut feeling) of the pilot.
  4. The consequences of a decision error is a dramatic increase in the chances of fatalities associated with an EFATO. Survival odds for landing straight ahead are very high at most airports, if the pilot flies to the ground instead of falling to the ground.
  5. Airmanship comes from regular practice. Practicing turnbacks at low altitude is unsafe, and possibly against the FARs.
  6. Practice at altitude is an instrument maneuver and near the ground, it is a ground-reference maneuver. There is little positive transfer of learning between the two—and some negative transfer.
  7. This maneuver requires pilot skill that far exceeds the majority of the bell curve of the pilot population. Stress and adrenaline kill fine motor skill and reduce cognitive power. Both are needed for this maneuver.
  8. “Eighty percent of the pilots believe themselves to be in the top 20 percent.” (Tom Drew, aviation attorney, Des Moines, Iowa)
  9. “The reality is half of us are below average.” (Doug Rozendaal)
  10. I am a DPE and I fly with sport pilot through ATP as well as CFI applicants. I also hold a surface-level aerobatic waiver. Based on that experience, I estimate the general pilot population successfully conducting a turnback from an EFATO to be less than 50 percent. That is Russian roulette with three or four bullets.
  11. The glider broken-rope analogy is flawed. Nearly all gliders are up-elevator limited and won’t stall in a bank beyond 30 degrees. Further, they have incredibly low stall speeds, and the consequences of a botched turnback are much less deadly, and the physics of the glide ratio and speeds make a 200-foot turnback in a glider comparable to a 1,000-foot turn-back in many airplanes.
  12. The media content from AOPA gives the impression that AOPA supports turning back from an EFATO.

Doug Rozendaal, AOPA 4127962
Mason City, Iowa

The pro/con discussion on the turnback after takeoff engine failure was good. However, I believe that this article will do more harm than good. I am a neurosurgeon and can relate to experience being the key to success during an unexpected circumstance. The gist of the article, no matter how argued, is that for the reader there is an option, to turn around. Unless this is practiced time and again, it will kill more than it will save. So, let’s look at how to practice. First, will an FBO that is busy, allow for such a training maneuver to be done at its facility? If at an uncontrolled airport, it’s even more of an issue. Is there liability in an FBO even allowing this to be practiced?

Second, it must be practiced with a CFI. Will the FAA allow this even to be taught? Third, even if the above two issues are overcome, in what aircraft should this be performed? It is my opinion that the editorial board should have thought this one out a bit more before publishing.

Stephen A. Fletcher, AOPA 4109585
Houston, Texas

We welcome your comments. Address letters to: Editor, AOPA Pilot, 421 Aviation Way, Frederick, Maryland 21701. Send email to pilot@aopa.org. Please include your full name, address, and AOPA number. Letters to the Editor may be edited for length and style before publication.