ADS-B Configuration Choices

For more background, refer to my previous article, “ADS-B, What You Should Know” at

coveragemap3Above is a very cool ADS-B “buildout” map, courtesy of ForeFlight, showing the progress from 2/27/2012 to 6/27/2013. They are “getting there”.

The FAA expects to have ADS-B fully deployed by the end of 2013 or early 2014.

Do I need ADS-B? Only if you want to fly your Mooney after New Years Day, 2020 in airspace that presently requires an aircraft to have a transponder.

Will I need a panel installed WAAS GPS?

Yes. ADS-B will use your GPS location and transmit that information to the controllers. WAAS allows the accuracy needed and a portable GPS won’t do the job. So, if you don’t have a panel mounted GPS, let’s start from the least expensive options.

ebay has some used GNS 430 WAAS for sale at around $7,300, plus installation. A new Garmin GTN 650 will cost almost $10,000 plus installation.

Want a bigger screen? The Garmin GTN 750 starts at about $15,000 plus installation.

If you already have a non WAAS Garmin 430, then the upgrade to WAAS will cost about $3,200 plus two hours of labor to install the new antennae. Garmin does not service the non-WAAS models. However, Garmin will upgrade the non-WAAS 430/530 to WAAS. After that, your  GNS 430W or 530W are 100% supported by Garmin.

ADS-B “In” Goodies for those flying in the “Blue” areas depicted in the map above.

Can I receive weather and NOTAMs?

Yes. Flight Information Service-Broadcast (FIS-B) gives you FREE access to about the same information that is currently provided by a SirusXM Radio “Aviator” subscription:

  • METARs & TAFs
  • Non-Routine Aviation Weather Reports (SPECI or Special Report)
  • Both Distant and Flight Data Center (FDC) NOTAMs
  • AIRMETs and SIGMETs, including Convective SIGMETs
  • Special use Airspace (SUA) status
  • Temp Flight Restrictions (TFR)
  • Winds and temps aloft

FIS-B may soon receive more weather information, such as Lightning, Turbulence NOWcast, Icing NOWcast, Cloud tops, and 1 minute AWOS – all uplinked every 10 minutes. In contrast, XM’s data service packages can be seen HERE. To be fair, XM’s weather is more timely and, depending on the package, contains more analytical products.

But wait, there’s more!

Can I receive a traffic display in my cockpit, just like the big jets?

Yes, from the Traffic Information Service-Broadcast (TIS-B). The data link transmitter that commercial, biz jets and high performance / high altitude aircraft will use to report their position and altitude is a Mode S transponder that uses a feature called “Extended Squitter” (ES). These transponders transmit using the 1090 MHz band, which is the  international standard for ADS-B Output. A Mode S transponder with ES is required if you are flying in class A airspace (Flight Level 180 and above) or internationally.

Specific only to United States airspace – and not approved elsewhere – is the UAT data link transmitter, which is an alternative to the Mode S transponder. It transmits your position and altitude on the 978 MHz band. In 2020, UAT transmitters may only be used on GA aircraft that are flying below FL180 in the USA.

GDL-88 trafficAt left is a traffic display on a Garmin GTN 750. TIS-B will uplink to ADS-B “In” aircraft, allowing a traffic display in the cockpit. It will also display on a GNS 430 / 530.

How do I receive FIS-B and TIS-B?

There are two ways.

#1: Install a Universal Access Transceiver (UAT) in your aircraft. Only the UAT has the bandwidth to receive the FIS-B and TIS-B signals. (ES transponders don’t have enough bandwidth). Garmin’s UAT is the GDL 88 ($3,700 – $4,000 plus about 20 hours to install). The GNS 430W / 530W or the newer GTN 650 / 750 displays can present the data in the cockpit.

#2: Buy a portable FIS-B and TIS-B receiver. These connect either with Bluetooth or Wi-Fi to an iPad and power the applications:

The ForeFlight app works with the Stratus receiver. Stratus 1 sells for $700. It provides a Wi-Fi connection that allows ForeFlight to receive FIS-B. It also receives TIS-B (only ADS-B participating aircraft), using the 978 MHz band. That’s the band used by GA aircraft operating below Class A airspace.

Stratus 2 ($900) uses both the 978 MHz and 1090 MHz bands. This allows you to see ADS-B participating air carrier and private or commercial operators of high-performance aircraft as they “Squit” their location using ES Transponders. This makes the Stratus 2 traffic picture more complete. The Stratus 2 also features a built-in AHRS for backup attitude information and is 30% smaller, with improved GPS performance and better heat resistance. See the Stratus video HERE.

The Dual XGPS170 ($700) powers: AOPA FlyQ EFB, Avilution (Android app), Bendix King myWingMan, eKneeboard, Flight Guide iEFB, Naviator (Android app), WingX Pro7, and EFIS models from GRT Avionics. It connects to the iPad via a Bluetooth connection, providing FIS-B and TIS-B. Watch the Dual XGPS170 video HERE.

The Garmin Pilot app, works with the Garmin GDL 39 receiver ($700). It connects via Bluetooth, allowing the Garmin Pilot to receive FIS-B and TIS-B. It also supports portable Garmin GPS units like the aera and GPSMap. See a GDL 39 video HERE.

When it comes to receiving Traffic (TIS-B), it becomes a complicated mess that would thrill the Marque de Sade. You see, the concept behind ADS-B is that airplanes, using their WAAS GPS position, will report their position, altitude, speed and other data via a UAT or ES transponder datalink to FAA ADS-B ground stations. This is ADS-B Out. ADS-B compiles position reports from participating aircraft and crunching this data packet to a specific aircraft. That data shows where nearby aircraft are located, complete with relative altitude and target trends.

Without ADS-B Out, and using a portable ADS-B In receivers do a good job with weather (FIS-B), but they are fallible when it comes to traffic (TIS-B). Without ADS-B Out, you’re not a participant, so you are unable to receive a custom traffic packet. If there is a participating aircraft nearby, it’s your lucky day – you can see his traffic packet, but it won’t be centered on your airplane.

Portable ADS-B Receivers and TIS-B Traffic Displays – Three Scenarios

Stratus-no ADS-B groundScenario #1: You’re flying with a portable ADS-B receiver like the Stratus, GDL 39 or the Dual XGPS170, but you don’t have an ADS-B Out transponder like the Garmin GTX 330ES installed in your panel. You’re not near an ADS-B ground station, so you will only receive TIS-B target information for airplanes that are transmitting ADS-B Out via air-to-air.  (Most airplanes do not have ADS-B Out, but this will change after 2020 when the FAA’s mandate goes into effect.)

Stratus-no ADS-B-but close

Scenario #2: You are flying with a portable ADS-B receiver like the Stratus, GDL 39 or the Dual XGPS170 without an ADS-B Out transponder like the Garmin GTX 330ES installed in your panel.

You happen to be close to another aircraft that is ADS-B Out-equipped and within range of an ADS-B ground station. The ADS-B Out airplane can relay traffic information to your ADS-B portable receiver in a 30-mile bubble and in this case, you will see what Santa has broadcast to the ADS-B Ground Station. That is, you’ll see all in-range Mode C and ADS-B targets.


Scenario #3: You have an ADS-B Out transponder like a Garmin GTX 330ES  installed in your airplane. Using your installed ADS-B equipment, you’ll be continuously transmitting to the ground stations and creating your own bubble of traffic information. In this best-case scenario, you’ll see all radar traffic within a 30-mile diameter and 3,500 feet of your altitude on your iPad using portable ADS-B receivers like the Stratus, GDL 39 or the Dual XGPS170.

Scenarios – Thanks to Sporty’s

So ask yourself, “Where do I fly?” 

Let’s assume that you are equipped with a WAAS GPS, a Mode-C Transponder, and: 

           You desire to fly in Class A airspace or internationally after 2020, and 

           You want ADS-B weather and traffic displayed on the GPS unit(s) 

 Option 1 – FIS-B and TIS-B Panel Display. 

Upgrade to a Garmin GTX 330ES Transponder – $3,500 + about 4 hours to install. This satisfies the 2020 ADS-B out requirement. 330 INSTALL NOTES: If you are replacing a Garmin GNX 327 transponder, from the outside, it looks like a simple ‘slide out the old and slide in the new’ install. However, the GTX 330ES is 2.55 inches longer than the 327, so “some assembly required”. Good news: Both transponders use the same antennae. THEN . . . . . .  Install a Garmin GDL 88 Diversity Datalink – $3,745 – $4,000 + about 20 hours to install. This uplinks FIS-B and TIS-B data to your display(s).

OR . . . . If you already have a Garmin Data Link (GDL) for XM Weather, you can keep that. You will forego the TIS-B Traffic Display. XM Monthly costs depend on your desires. Click HERE for plans. See your Avionics shop for GDL install costs.

Option 2 ADS-B “In” FIS-B and TIS-B on a portable Garmin GPS or iPad OR keep XM Weather:

Upgrade your transponder. A Garmin GTX 330 ES Transponder will cost $3,500 + 4 hours to install. See 330 INSTALL NOTES in Option 1. THEN ADD . . . . . . .  An iPad or portable Garmin GPS units like the aera or Garmin Map696. 

The iPad starts at $400 for the 16 gig model. Wi-Fi models need an external GPS like the Dual XGPS150A or Bad Elf GPS – $100. The Garmin aera runs $600 and the Map696 costs $2,000.

Choose a portable receiver. This will allow you to receive FIS-B and TIS-B. Once again those receivers are the GDL 39 (iPad or Garmin portable GPS’), Stratus 1st Gen, Stratus 2nd Gen, (ForeFlight only) and the Dual XGPS170 (works with a myriad of apps)  OR . . . . If you already have a Garmin Data Link (GDL) for XM Weather, you can keep.  Monthly costs depend on your desires. Click HERE for plans. See your Avionics shop for GDL install costs.

Can a Garmin GTX 330 Mode-S Transponder be updated to ES? 

Yes. It can be upgraded to a GTX330 ES for only $1,200 + about 4 hours to install (see 330 INSTALL NOTES – previous page. If you’d like weather and traffic displayed on the GPS display(s), you’ll need to add a UAT, similar to the GDL 88 Diversity Datalink. Or, if you don’t mind viewing weather and traffic on your iPad, you can simply use the app and portable “ADS-B In” receiver options noted above.

Resale thoughts

If you own an aircraft that is capable of flying above FL180, but you choose to not equip your airplane with a Mode S (ES) transponder, consider this: One day you might want to sell your airplane. Without a Mode S (ES) transponder, you’ve handicapped your airplane a bit. It’s capable of flying high, but banished from Class A airspace. You will probably need to adjust your selling price accordingly.

Perhaps you have a normally aspirated Mooney that will never see Class A airspace. Being ready for 2020 makes your aircraft more exciting when compared, side by side, with one that needs some work.

If you:

Fly below FL180 and Have no desire to venture outside the USA and … 

Your aircraft is already equipped with a WAAS GPS and … 

You have either a Mode-C or Mode-S (non-ES) Transponder and … 

The idea of weather and traffic displayed on your GPS display excites you.

You’ll need to add just one piece of hardware in order to meet ADS-B requirements – a UAT.

Garmin’s UAT is the GDL 88 Diversity Datalink – $3,745 – $4,000 plus 20 hours to install.

Any Garmin GDL 88 model UAT will make an honest pilot out of you on January 1st, 2020. In the meantime, you’ll be able to enjoy ADS-B traffic (TIS-B) and subscription-free weather (FIS-B) on your GNS or GTS panel mounted GPS display. For more information, contact your favorite Avionics Shop.

Fly safe and stay out of trouble! JD

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Why does 100LL Cost so Much?


The petroleum  refining process starts by boiling  and pumping the hot solution into a distillation column. The solution has differing temperature ranges at each height. Off the top, (the coolest part), they pull the Liquefied Petroleum (LP) and butane. Below that is gasoline, also called straight run. However, at this point, the octane is usually too low, but through catalytic reforming or alkylation processes, the octane is boosted.

The next range of products from the column are called middle distillates – the Jet A and diesel products.

Lower still – the hotter and heavier fluid is used for fuel oil. Even the dregs of the column are used to make asphalt or coke.

JET A – A Relatively Simple Process!

Jet fuel is simply streamed off the column, and its sulfur content is lowered. That’s it. It is now ready to be shipped.

100 LL – The Problem with Lead

To make 100LL, the refinery takes the alkylate and re-distills it. Then, it’s pumped into a separate tank where they add 2.0 grams of lead to each gallon of fuel.  The lead and the equipment needed for the injection is very costly. There is only one plant in the world now producing Tetraethyl lead (TEL), so there is no price competition. Another problem is the health hazards associated with pure TEL, which must be handled in dedicated systems.

The 100LL batch is tested and if the octane does not meet the 100/130 levels, they add an expensive component called Toluene concentrate to increase the octane. Once the batch meets all of the requirements, it’s ready to ship.

Liability costs are factored into every aviation product on the market today and 100LL is no exception. For example, some companies just add the cost of the leading facility, the increased value of the high octane alkylate product, the liability risk factor, and other factors to the overhead cost of the refinery.

 Shipping from the Refinery is Expensive

Jet A is shipped in large volumes to all parts of the country through pipelines. For example, the airports in Chicago use about 4 million gallons every day, so all of the terminals have a ready supply. It costs a few cents to ship (via pipeline) 8,000 gallons of Jet A 500 miles.

100LL is a specialty product because it contains lead and US pipelines won’t allow it to sully their pipes. 100LL must travel by truck or rail and It costs about $2,000 to ship 8,000 gallons of 100LL 500 miles.

An FBO can shop around for the best price on Jet A, because almost every distribution plant in the country has it. For 100LL, the marketplace is brutal. Less than than 10 refineries produce 100LL in the US and most FBOs cannot afford to buy large quantities. To make it even more con-competitive, in the non-metropolitan areas, FBOs must buy from a single fuel distributor, while in metropolitan areas there might be two distributors. Either way, it’s a seller’s market.

It Gets Worse

The FBOs set their prices based on their situations. For example, some FBOs try to cover overhead expenses through fuel sales. Others want to be GA Friendly, so they lower the price of their 100LL.

Clearly, the industry needs to develop simpler and cheaper fuels for our Mooneys and GA. Perhaps the solution lies in Diesel engines or an unleaded fuel that will safely power the Piper Cub and high performance models. For now, we must be smart about where we take of business and buy fuel from airports that support GA through affordable fuel prices. We can try to encourage our airport managements and local FBOs to find a  fuel price that’s good for everyone. There must be a price sweet spot that will benefit the FBO and encourage the growth of General Aviation.

Fly safe and stay out of trouble! JD

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When the Belly Scrapes the Runway

gearupIt doesn’t matter if you are a 16 year old student pilot or a gray haired and experienced ATP. Military pilot, airline pilot, instructor or Mooney owner – even some of them have landed gear up. No one is immune from making mistakes, but I sometimes wonder why pilots ignore the gear warning horn. 

An Air Force pilot who landed gear up was asked, “Didn’t you hear the controllers yelling at you on the radio to go around?”

He answered that he couldn’t hear the radio because of a loud intermittent horn blaring in his ears.

Here’s a video, shot from a Cessna cockpit. The Cessna pilot manages to ignore the blaring landing gear warning and lands gear up. CLIKE HERE FOR THE VIDEO.

You’ve all heard the phrase, “There are those who have and those who will – land gear up.” That’s a load of horse pucky that somehow makes those who have landed gear up feel better about themselves. Folks, we all don’t have to land gear up. We just need to be pilots!

Here are a few Mooney pilot cases, where they were distracted and found themselves outside the place in the pattern where they normally extended the gear. See if you can find a common theme.

Focused on Sequence – Bypassing the Normal Gear Extension Point

Butler, PA – MOONEY M20J,

The pilot stated that, when he returned to the airport after a local flight, two airplanes were in the traffic pattern and a third airplane was inbound about 10 miles east. To sequence with the two airplanes in the pattern and the third airplane on the extended downwind leg, the pilot did not enter the traffic pattern at the midpoint of the downwind leg, but entered the traffic pattern closer to the approach end of the intended runway. He lowered the flaps, but did not lower the landing gear. He turned onto the base leg, extended full flaps, and then turned onto final approach. While on final approach, the pilot had a sense that the airplane was fast and that the “sight picture” was lower than usual, but he did not detect that the landing gear was retracted or recall hearing the landing gear warning horn.

Focused on Avoiding a Mid-Air – “Where is that guy?”

Clearwater, FL – MOONEY M20M

According to the pilot, after entering the traffic pattern for landing, he noted that there were two other airplanes in the traffic pattern. As he announced his position on the downwind leg of the traffic pattern, he heard another pilot also announce his position at the same location. The accident pilot visually identified the other airplane, and that pilot reported that he would proceed behind the accident airplane to the runway. The accident pilot stated that he became preoccupied with locating the other airplane during the downwind leg of the traffic pattern and forgot to lower the landing gear.

Focused on Spacing – “After you, Sir.”

Willmar, MN – MOONEYH M20K

The student pilot extended the downwind leg of the traffic pattern on his third solo landing to provide spacing for another airplane. He said that he forgot to lower the landing gear and inadvertently landed with the gear up.

What can you do to avoid a gear up landing? You can start by promising yourself that you’ll always:

–          Be consistent about when and where you extend the gear. Sometimes that’s not possible, so you’ll need to check your gear down at least three times. Do it on downwind, base and final

–          Use your before-landing checklist and employ a GUMP check (Gas-Undercarriage-Mixture-Prop).

–          Check the gear indicator for “down and locked”.

–          Talk to yourself. It’s a healthy way to stay safe in the air! Make it a habit to physically touch the gear indicators and say out loud “gear down”.

–          Get your flying partner/spouse involved in checking that the gear is down before you land.

I don’t know about you, but I think losing my Mooney for several months while the engine, prop and belly are repaired is – unacceptable! Fly smart and be safe

Stay out of trouble! JD

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My Aspen

aspenI have wanted an Aspen for a long time, so after months of thinking about it, I chose Arizona Air-Craftsman in Prescott, AZ for the installation. They have a wonderful reputation in the Avionics field and the flight from Chandler (KCHD) to Prescott (KPRC) was short and simple. The Aspen 1000 Pro costs $9,500 and Arizona Air-Craftsman estimated that it would take 50 man hours to install.  My wife encouraged me to add the Synthetic Vision upgrade for $2,900 (no labor required). Alright Dear, if you insist! The Garmin 430 upgrade to WAAS was $3,200 plus two hours of labor to install the new WAAS antenna.

Small Lettering?

I had heard stories about the small lettering on the Aspen,  but I disagree! I suppose that some people just like to complain. For me and my young 66 year old eyes, the lettering is very easy to read. The Vref and stall speed writing on the airspeed tape are in a tiny font, but these speeds are not meant to be in a font that jumps out at you. Rather, they are there in case you have a sudden onset of dementia and can’t remember your aircraft’s customary approach speed. Now, where was I?

The GPS Steering (GPSS) is a wonderful feature and when it is coupled to the autopilot, it brings you into the world of glass cockpit automation. GPSS and Aspen’s Auto Course, when enabled, allows you to sit back and watch in amazement as the course changes automatically and the Aspen computes a lead turn to the next flight plan course. (No waypoint  overflys).

It has an assigned altitude window above the altimeter tape, complete with aural and visual warnings that alert you when you stray.

Barometric pressure, speed bugs and approach minimum altitudes – they are all easily set on the Aspen.

Yup, there’s an app for that

If you are worried about learning a new system and you think a glass cockpit is daunting, stop it right now! The manual is very good and for those who like courses, Sporty’s has an iPad app and a DVD course that covers everything. Cost is about $32. After a few trips through the course, you’ll be quite comfortable when you pick up your aircraft.

aspen2Steam Gauge Weaning

It’s been seven years since I retired from flying A-320s. I found myself “cheating” and looking at the steam gauge airspeed and altimeter instead of the Aspen’s tape display. Slowly, I’m weaning myself from the steam gauges. If you want to be stern with yourself, you can wean yourself “cold turkey” by placing “failed instrument covers” on the airspeed, altimeter and VVI.

Panel-Mar2013My panel configuration.  With just the 1000 Pro, one must keep the attitude indicator in case the Aspen loses power. The Aspen comes with its own battery to provide 30 minutes of power should you lose aircraft power.

Stay out of trouble! JD

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Aspen is expandable in steps. If you just want to start with a Primary Flight Display (PFD), that’s great. If later you want one or two Multifunction Displays (MFD), add those. The MFDs can display weather if you install an Aspen SiriusXM receiver and government published instrument approach plates.

The Aspen 1000 Pro has so many nice features. Resale value may or may not increase, depending on the market, but your aircraft will have great cockpit appeal!

I could not be happier with the installation.

Windshear and Dew Point

We all know that a very small temperature/dew point spread creates the perfect conditions for low visibility. However, did you know that  . . a very high temperature/dew point spread associated with convective activity can be an indication of an imminent danger to light airplanes.

Wet microbursts are normally associated with heavy rain.

Dry microbursts are associated with Virga.

When the spread between the air temperature and dew point is between 15 and 30 degrees C and convective storms are in the area, that’s a recipe for wind shear.

There is a good chance of wind shear from microbursts associated with thunderstorms, even if the storms have passed.

windshearMany major airports have LLWAS (Low Level Wind shear Alert Systems) and Terminal Doppler radar to help detect microbursts. These warnings are very accurate and pilots should not take these warnings lightly.


There are no wind shear FAR restrictions (Part 91 or Part 135). As always, your good judgment is the key to survival. If ATC issues a Wind Shear alert or another pilot reports encountering an airspeed loss on takeoff or landing, then you should consider delaying your takeoff or approach until the wind shear situation is no longer relevant.


Airlines have wind shear rules to help their pilots make approach and landing decisions. The report of a 15 knot airspeed loss on takeoff or approach is a show stopper. Subsequently, if a GA pilot PIREPs that he or she did not experience wind shear, or that the airspeed loss is less than 15 knots, airline approaches can resume. Other clues that wind shear is about to bite you in the empennage are:

Groundspeed variations (decreasing head wind or increasing tail wind, or a shift from head wind to tail wind)

Vertical-speed excursions of 500 fpm or more

Pitch attitude excursions of five degrees or more

Glideslope deviation of one dot or more


PIREP wording is important when it comes to wind shear. Avoid the phrase “Negative wind shear on final”, for that could also mean “none”. More appropriate wording would be, “Mooney 257 Kilo Whiskey encountered wind shear, loss of 10 knots at 800 feet.”


If you don’t have personal limits when it comes to wind shear, consider adopting those developed by the airlines. When you notice wind shear clues such as a high temperature/ dew point spread, consider delaying your takeoff or landing to give the wind shear time to dissipate. It might save your aircraft and your life!

Fly safe and stay out of trouble! JD

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Another Impossible Turn

impossible1The morning of July 17th, 2011, Brian Hayes, 35, and his girlfriend Nicole Anderson, 32 landed at Lindbergh Regional Airport in Winslow, AZ. According to FlightAware, this was the first leg of their cross country flight from Colorado Springs.

The Mooney M20F was based in Chino, CA and owned collectively by Brian and his partners.

Brian and Nicole were police officers in Southern California and were on their way home in N3534X.

Loss of Engine Power – No Big Deal

Brian’s partners reported that he had issues with what he believed to be water in the fuel tanks. He had reported that previously he had a loss of engine power during takeoff but was able to restart the engine. Brian thought that if the problems continued, he would install new fuel cell bladders.

After adding 41 gallons of 100LL and stretching their legs, Brian and Nicole departed on runway 11 at about 10:20 AM, MST.

A witness said that a short time after taking off, Hayes transmitted that he was returning to the Winslow airport due to a rough running engine.

According to the NTSB report, witnesses on the ground saw the plane in a steep turn and then saw it descend in an uncontrolled spiral. No one saw the plane actually crash.

Inverted, the airplane impacted along the right side of the approach end of runway 29, killing Brian and Nicole.impossible-crash

The Effects of Water in the Tanks

The fuel injection servo was opened for examination. Investigators observed debris and corrosion within the servo fuel inlet filter screen, internal diaphragm cavities and mixture control mechanism bore, which appeared to be consistent with previous water contamination. The fuel injector servo was disassembled and examined. This confirmed the servo had rust and corrosion present throughout the unit.

How Can We Keep the Water Out? Perhaps We Can Comply With the Appropriate Service Bulletin

In 1986, Mooney published Service Bulletin M20-229A, “Fuel Filler Caps, Inspection and Adjustment. [See ]

Exposure to fuel fumes, fuel and weather has a deteriorating effect on the fuel cap O rings. In addition to replacing the cap O rings annually, the mechanism and the O ring need to be lubricated occasionally with Tri-Flow oil. You can find this at a bicycle shop. This will keep the mechanism lubricated and prevent O ring cracking. M20-229A also has instructions for your mechanic to test the cap adjustment to ensure that moisture stays out of your tanks.

Did this Mooney have M20-229A accomplished at the last annual? I’m not privy to the logbooks, but if there was water in the fuel, there’s a good chance that the owners and or the mechanic were unaware of the Service Bulletin.impoossible3

The Big Push and Straight Ahead!

We don’t know the altitude at which the engine roughness and subsequent failure occurred, but it was “a short time after takeoff” from the Winslow airport. Winslow’s field elevation is 4,941 feet MSL and even a t 10:00 am, the temperature was a hot 91oF (33oC), driving the density altitude to 8,180 feet.  These conditions probably reduced their aircraft and engine performance during climbout.

What if it Happens to You? Forcing the Big Push

Logical thought would be screaming at you to pull back on the yoke to stop the descent. But you need to do the opposite! You need to immediately push the nose over! This forceful push forward on the controls reveals a frightening nose-low attitude in order to keep the airplane flying. However, if you don’t immediately do “THE BIG PUSH”, your nose up climb attitude will put you in an almost immediate stall/spin.

You’ve done “THE BIG PUSH”. Now what? The nose is very low but the airplane is still flying with at least a small margin above stall speed. If you were really low when the engine failed (at or below 300 feet), there is no question about what comes next. The airplane is descending rapidly and the ground is coming up equally fast, so the only option available is a slight turn if necessary to avoid any serious objects directly ahead of you, followed by a flare just before hitting the ground or at least try to cushion the force of the impact. While the landing gear may be damaged or even collapse, odds are that you and your passengers will have few if any injuries.

What if You are Higher than 300 Feet AGL?

Assuming you manage to avoid an immediate stall by getting the nose down quickly, you would typically start hearing little voices telling you to get it back on the runway. It seems so close!

impossible-devilDon’t Do It! It’s a Trick!

Trying to turn back to the runway is so dangerous that there have been many fatalities involving pilots who have tried it from 500 feet. Instructors and their students, with perfectly good engines, practicing the turn back to the runway, have had accidents.

 Decide Now!

Before every takeoff, prepare yourself for a possible engine failure with a short briefing stating out loud what you will do if the engine fails on the runway, below your minimum turnaround altitude and above that altitude. Then make a quick callout as you climb through your minimum turnaround altitude. That way, if the engine fails on takeoff, your decision is easy. If you haven’t made the minimum altitude call, you don’t even consider turning around. Your conditioned response, without thinking, must be:

  • Get the nose down (The Big Push),
  • Keep the airplane flying, and
  • Look ahead within about a 60-degree arc for the best place to set the airplane down.

Someone will most certainly need to call the insurance company. However, the good news is that it probably won’t be your next of kin. That’s because you will have flown the aircraft all the way to the crash site and survived to make the call!

impossible-swearNow, raise your hand and repeat after me:

“I swear on my Mooney’s Operating Manual, that:

  • “I’ll listen to my aircraft and get it fixed immediately”
  • “I’ll fly enough to stay proficient”
  • “When the engine quits, the airplane belongs to the insurance company.”
  • “I’ll always put my life and the lives of my passengers first because the plane is always a distant second.”

Fly safe and stay out of trouble! JD

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How does one enter the traffic pattern when a 45 to downwind is not convenient?

Fly directly over the runway, heading toward the downwind at least 1000ft above the traffic pattern altitude. This way, you’ll have a great view of the airport and approaching aircraft.
 Once clear of the downwind leg, you can start a descending turn and set up for a 45 degree entry to a midfield downwind.
Ensure that you’re at pattern altitude before you enter the downwind. This will help ensure that you don’t descent on aircraft in the pattern. Always be aware of any arriving aircraft.
Just because you don’t hear anyone in the pattern, that doesn’t mean that a pilot in a J-3 Cub – without a radio – isn’t trying to land, too. Always fly the standard traffic pattern. Don’t rationalize some other method. That only adds to pattern confusion. Be a solution and not a problem.

Flying the standard pattern published in the Aeronautical Information Manual (AIM) will standardize pilot expectations!
Of course, at towered airports, comply with the controllers instructions!”