Here at Plane & Pilot, we seem to enjoy lavishing full rebuilds on old Skylanes. Back in the late ’70s, I found and negotiated the purchase of a 1963 Skylane for the magazine as a reader project airplane. A few years ago, ex-editor Lyn Freeman purchased our current project airplane, yet another C182.
We flew the airplane as it was for three years before launching into our rebuild. At this writing, the total renovation of Cessna N9771H is complete. We’ll have more to say about the other parameters of restoration in future issues, but the avionics package in this airplane is a special installation.
We selected Advantage Avionics [www.aspenavionics.com, (909) 606-0220] in Chino, Calif., as our install shop. In “Old Six To New Six” [April 2007], we covered owner Mark Krueger’s complete resurrection of a 1966 Piper Cherokee Six 260, one of the earliest of the type. In the case of our Skylane, just as with his early Cherokee Six, the job wasn’t to simply replace a radio or two, but to rebuild the entire stack, effectively replacing virtually the whole panel.
Not a big surprise that Krueger had done exactly that many times before. He’s been in the avionics business for a dozen years, and he’s done scores of ground-up avionics restorations to everything from puddle-jumpers to jets.
We worked closely with Krueger on the job, configuring locations and selecting equipment, and he was always a step ahead of us, suggesting ways to do it better. He spent more than two months making certain everything was right before returning the airplane to us, and, no big surprise, it was right. As proof, everything has been cooking along nicely since Advantage Avionics worked its magic. The result is one of the best-equipped older Skylanes in the sky. Here’s a brief description of the package Advantage Avionics installed in our company Skylane.
When Jim Rosen introduced his upscale sunvisors 20 years ago, many pilots felt there was no way the multi-adjustable, heavily tinted visors would catch on. I was an early believer, however, not because of any brilliant insight on my part, but because the visors in my older Mooney were nothing short of terrible. (Fortunately, newer Mooneys don’t suffer from the same ill.)
Today, Rosen visors come standard in a wide variety of new airplanes, and even when they don’t, the aircraft manufacturers have gone to school on Rosen’s success and designed their own comparable sun blockers. The engineering on Rosen visors is closer to what you might expect in a Rolls-Royce than an airplane.
In addition to being tougher than most other visors, Rosen sunvisors are infinitely adjustable, equally capable of masking the sun from both the windshield and the side windows. They articulate to both horizontal and vertical positions, fold to block unwanted sun from any direction, yet provide enough transparent visibility to assist in spotting other traffic. Like many things worth having, Rosen visors aren’t cheap, but they represent an investment in an enduring product that’s functional and brilliantly engineered. For more information, visit www.rosenvisor.com.
JPI EDM-800 Engine Analyzer
I bought my first engine analyzer 35 years ago, a simple model that provided only individual cylinder EGT information on my old taildragger Bellanca and required manually switching from one cylinder to the next.
Since then, the state of the engine-analysis art has improved exponentially. Joe Polizzotto of JP Instruments in Costa Mesa, Calif., has been a major proponent of that development. JPI is certainly one of the leading manufacturers of engine analyzers for virtually the entire general aviation community. The Plane & Pilot Skylane is fitted with a JPI EDM-800 system, complete with all the options.
In addition to displaying constant bar graph readouts of all cylinders’ EGT and CHT (the latter by a missing segment system in the EGT bar graph), the 800 offers enough additional information to satisfy a Gulfstream pilot. There’s OAT, voltage, cooldown monitoring of each cylinder (with the greatest rate displayed), EGT gap between highest and lowest cylinder, percentage of horsepower, oil temperature and even data recording. Our EDM-800 also features a fuel computer that reads fuel burned, consumed and remaining. When coupled to a GPS, the system can also suggest reserve and endurance at current burn.
Traditional wisdom has it that engine analyzers work best when installed on fuel-injected engines that feature fairly even fuel distribution between cylinders, and our stock Skylane is obviously carbureted. Still, we believe you can’t have too much information about the mechanical state of your engine, and it’s a good thing, because Polizzotto’s intelligent engine analyzers answer every question you can think of, and some others you might not have considered. For more information, visit www.jpinstruments.com.
Bose X Headsets
Even the best-insulated general aviation airplanes aren’t especially quiet in flight, and good headsets are essential. Our C182 is equipped with a pair of Bose X headsets. Bose was a pioneer in active noise reduction back in the last century, offering transparent earcups that displayed the company’s innovative ANR circuitry. The current Bose X series is smaller, lighter and more efficient, and is regarded by many pilots as state of the art.
Bose employs a magnesium alloy to reduce total weight to a svelte 12 ounces. The headset offers three inches of adjustment to fit virtually anyone’s skull size, and earcups are adaptable through 10 degrees of rotation, both horizontally and vertically. The result is an almost infinitely adjustable headset that can adapt to any head size.
Power, in our case, is provided by a pair of AA batteries that allow 40 hours of operation, but the Bose Xs are also available with plugs to tap into the aircraft’s power. The Bose X also features automatic shutoff when the earcup sensors determine the headset is no longer in use. The warranty is for five years, and it’s fully transferable in case you decide to sell the headset. But why would you? For more information, visit www.bose.com.
Sandel SN3500 EHSI
HSIs have long been famous for simplifying the critical IFR scan function, and our Skylane will be an on-demand editorial transport that probably will be employed in instrument conditions. The Sandel SN3500 EHSI offers a bright, compact, electronic presentation of more information than you’d believe. I’ve been using HSIs of every description on corporate and turbine equipment for 25 years, and the Sandel 3500 is easily the equal of many pricier systems.
The 3500 features both a 60-degree arc view and a full 360-degree view in case you’re interested in what might be gaining on you. You can select from a variety of GPS, VOR, ADF, DME and FMS navigation inputs; display a miniature version of a moving map on the screen with selectable ranges; and opt for traffic and weather displays as well. Range, bearing, speed and next waypoint ID are all available at the top, and there are the usual CDI and heading bug controls.
In short, the Sandel SN3500 EHSI is about as close as you can come to an all-in-one box confined to a standard 3.5-inch instrument-hole display. For more information, visit www.sandel.com.
Mid-Continent Lifesaver Backup ADI
If you fly at night or IFR on a regular basis, a standby artificial horizon can be a lifesaver. Accordingly, that’s exactly the name Mid-Continent Instruments chose for its battery-powered ADI. Mid-Continent has been a major overhaul shop for gyros of all kinds for decades, and they know about as much about pneumatic gyros as anyone. As a result, the Mid-Continent Lifesaver attitude indicator is designed to provide a pilot with a one-hour electrical hedge against a total electrical failure. The one-hour battery life includes LED lighting for low-light situations.
With more and more pilots switching from vacuum to electric these days, the Lifesaver provides welcome attitude information when everything else is dead. The system’s projected life is 7,500 hours, triple the endurance of a vacuum system, and battery life when properly charged and maintained is about three years. For more information, visit www.lifesavergyro.com.
L-3 Stormscope WX-500
A Stormscope can make all the difference when the weather is dark and stormy and you’re slogging along in the clag, but it also may provide a good diagnostic weather tool for flying VFR. Stated simply, a Stormscope detects electrical discharges. The most common manifestations of discharge are lightning flashes, but electrical reactions can be silent and invisible, the result of two vertical or horizontal air masses rubbing against one another without any telltale flash or clap of thunder.
These days, Stormscopes are sold by L-3 Communications. They sense electrical activity out to 200 nm, and refresh rate is every two seconds, so the information you receive on the screen is current. Pilots who live in areas of active discharge often employ Stormscopes while parked on the ramp to examine the proposed route for thunderstorm activity. It’s sometimes possible to make intelligent go/no-go decisions based primarily on Stormscope readouts.
Even when there’s no significant weather about, Stormscopes can serve useful functions as timers and repositories of checklists. For more information, visit www.l-3com.com.
PS Engineering PMA8000
Mark Scheuer of PS Engineering is one of those little guys who took on the major avionics manufacturers and produced a niche product that earned a place for itself on the panels of thousands of airplanes. The PS Engineering audio panel has provisions for the usual two navcoms, plus it will accept cell phone, MP3 or CD inputs. You can even conduct simultaneous transmissions on two different radios at the same time, just like corporate or airline crews. The pilot can handle normal IFR comm on box one while the copilot orders steaks at the local restaurant on the flight phone. Our PS Engineering system is even set up for Sirius Radio, which allows us to monitor any of more than 100 music and talk satellite channels.
You might think there’s no glamour to an audio panel, but PS Engineering’s 8000-series switching panel proves otherwise. For more information, visit www.ps-engineering.com.
Honeywell KX 155 Navcoms With KLN 94
The basic navcom/GPS package in the P&P Skylane is one of the new/old combinations of the Bendix/King/Honeywell KX 155 navcoms and the newer KLN 94 GPS. The KX 155s are among the most bulletproof navcoms in the industry and have been around practically forever. Today’s KX 155s are upgraded and improved follow-ons to the systems introduced more than a quarter-century ago.
For its part, the IFR-approved KLN 94 is the modern version of such earlier GPS systems as the KLN 89 and KLN 90. The KLN 94 incorporates a full-color moving map, flight-plan capability, a large database and such peripheral features as Quick Tune automatic frequency loading to a KX 155. The system also displays full-map presentation of non-GPS approaches, such as ILS and VOR procedures. For more information, visit www.honeywell.com.
|The most impressive new additions to the panel included an Avidyne EX500 MFD with a moving map and the Meggitt/S-TEC 55X autopilot.|
Avidyne EX500 MFD
Long before the advent of the big, two-screen, glass-panel Avidyne Entegra installed in many new aircraft, the company was producing MFDs (multi-function displays) in smaller sizes for retrofit to much of the general aviation fleet.
Avidyne’s FlightMax EX500 is a compact unit, but still large enough to display virtually any flight information you need. The EX500’s “mapcentric” operation allows you to display more of the important data on a single page without succumbing to clutter and excessive numerology. In addition to the usual moving map of your flight track, the EX500 reads out radar and/or datalink weather, special-use airspace, traffic, terrain and lightning, all on the same page.
Optionally, the EX500 also can display Jeppesen CMax approach charts and airport diagrams, a major advantage in hard IFR conditions when any distraction can be critical. Ours is fitted with TCAS that reads out directly on the EX500, providing a real-time reference to traffic location, relative altitude and trend. Finally, the system accepts multiple data uplink systems, such as XM Satellite Weather or any other provider. For more information, visit www.avidyne.com.
Avidyne TAS-610 TCAS
If you fly around busy terminal airspace on a regular basis, some form of collision avoidance is extremely desirable. The Skylane features an Avidyne 610, a system that employs one of the oldest names in TCAS technology, Ryan International.
Ryan is a pioneer in collision avoidance, and they introduced the first Ryan TCAD systems more than a quarter-century ago, displaying nearby traffic with range and relative altitude information only, no clock position.
Today, the TAS610 incorporates Ryan’s Active-Surveillance Traffic Technology, which surveils the surrounding 12 miles of airspace with both top and bottom antennas, and provides heads-up warnings of aircraft within its vertical limits of plus or minus 3,500 feet and a max altitude of 25,000 feet.
The TAS610 is a heads-up system that announces all target parameters (“Traffic, one o’clock high, two miles”), so a pilot need not first bring his eyes back inside the cockpit to check the panel readout before looking for the offending aircraft.
Meggitt/S-TEC 55X Autopilot
An autopilot is almost essential if you’re planning long cross-country flights, and Skylanes are generally regarded as excellent traveling machines. Meggitt/S-TEC is the world’s largest manufacturer of general aviation autopilots, starting with the entry-level S-TEC 20 and peaking with the top-of-the-line model 65.
Our Skylane is fitted with the S-TEC 55X, one of the company’s midpriced/high-capability automatic flight-control systems. It’s an all-in-one box, offered in a standard 6.3-inch panel-stack width, with annunciators and mode controls on the same face. The 55X is rate-based, meaning it’s designed to operate on the indications of a turn coordinator rather than an artificial horizon.
It’s a two-axis system that offers rate of climb and altitude preselect, as well as DG and NAV track, GPSS steering (strangely from the GPS) and REV modes for back-course approaches. The 55X is adaptable to everything from entry-level wing leveling to full-on coupled approaches, and its simple push-button operation makes it nearly idiotproof. Even magazine writers can fly it. For more information, visit www.s-tec.com.