Saturday, July 28, 2007

Electrical Maintenance

If you have radio problems, the following checks and procedures may save you a pile of money and ease your frustrations.

· Alternator – The idle voltage should be higher than 12V (24V). Higher RPM should yield 14.27V (28.5V). Check with VOM at cigarette lighter if Bus Bar is not accessible.
· Check battery fluid levels once a month.
· Listen to radio for alternator whine while landing lights are on. Radio Squelch 'off' and squelch 'on'.
· Listen to radio for Magneto noise – You will hear a whine if shielding is poor. If a grinding sound is heard, the capacitor is shot.
· Check dimmer functions on lights and on radios (night).
· If ADF doesn’t point, check sense antenna. Check pins at the antenna connector. The female portion receptors sometimes get pushed back, something you can’t see.
· When connectors are removed, use a soft pink eraser to clean pins. Check the pins are parallel and not bent. Any green color indicates corrosion and ensures poor performance.
· Put vaseline on sides of radios so they slide in and out of racks more easily.
· If contact cleaner helps make a device work better, it is close to death already and should be replaced.
· Clean volume controls using contact cleaner (lighter fluid) and air pressure to blow clean.
· Every 500 hours or 2 years all screw contacts at switches, breakers and grounds should be tightened.
· Jacks – If the plug being wriggled in and out produces a crackling sound in the speakers, the jack is no longer good.
· No ground wire from a radio should be longer than 6”.
· The Transponder antenna coax should be no longer than 4 feet.
· All antennas should be clean and free of grime and paint.
· If the Transponder is using the wire type DME antenna, the wire must not be bent.
· If the coax cable is stiff, it should be replaced.
· If the Encoder appears not to be working, check to see if it feels warm after 10 minutes of operation. If cool, it is not working.
· Use NOALOX* on pins before installing connectors, using a small brush to apply.
· If copper-aluminum contact is made at some connector, use PENETROX E-13*.
· If copper-copper contact is made, use PENETROX A-13*. e.g. battery connectors and contactors.
· Obtain a can of BLOW-IT* air cleaner to blow out possible dust in connectors and sliding contacts.
· If you want to measure voltages in wires without undoing the connectors, get a ‘Pin Prick Probe’ for your VOM.
· If you have a radio problem, change earphones and push to talk switch first. Don’t plug into the intercom connectors but instead into the emergency connectors. They are direct to the radio.

Frank Hofmann, AME
Retired Professor of Aircraft maintenance

Globalization of Aviation Regulations

Globalization and Canada’s Aviation Regulations

With the advent of ‘Globalization’, a term generally interpreted as a positive thing, it is likely that those with more to lose will indeed lose more than those with nothing to lose. As aviation procedures are ‘harmonized’ by regulators in their effort to attain a world-wide standard, it is always easier to achieve consensus by lessening expectations and associated freedoms.

To understand what is currently happening to aviation in Canada it is interesting to speculate on the effect foreign cultures are having and will continue to have on Canada’s owners and pilots.

My recent work at ICAO and my visits to other parts of the world have led me to the conclusion that there are in fact three basic cultures in the world as regards aviation. The choice of three may at first appear to be an over-simplification, but think about it. These conceptual models can be summarized and in their essence their perspective is:

Model 1): People are not permitted to fly; Model 2): Everyone is permitted to fly; Model 3): If we have enough rules, then people may fly.

Model 1 is found in the majority of the world, particularly in dictatorial, dogmatic or paternalistic cultures. Leaders in these cultures generally discourage that people communicate – be it by good roads, good telephone system, permitting ham radio, television (electric power), free print media, or travel by air. The argument that there is no flying in such countries due to economics does not wash because these countries always have a segment of their population that can afford flight, and furthermore, in these same countries even ultralights often are not permitted. I have observed at ICAO that the most constrictive proposals against aviation tend to come from States which do not have a healthy General Aviation industry. “Of course you may not fly.”

Model 2 is operational here in North America. Our young history is one of freedom and of individualism. We are prone to accept, and to be responsible for, our own individual state and actions. Traditionally we tend not to point first to the law when trying to decide if we may or may not carry out a reasonable activity. As well, we have had a pragmatic need for our aviation activity. The result has been that we have enjoyed significant liberties in our aviation activities, not found elsewhere, and looked upon with some envy by most others. “Everyone has the right to fly.”

Model 3 is in general use throughout Europe. As are their forests and landscape, their airspace and its operating procedures are cultivated, organized and enforced in great detail. An example is that of Germany where you may not fly to or from an airport which is unattended. The airport manager must be present. Another example is that of a national authority closing all General Aviation airports in order to assure the public’s security during a major international event. This is a case of security at any price. Such decisions to close down all General Aviation during major events have in fact been taken without proper justification, without prior risk analysis. Such a broad brush approach appears to North American eyes to be the expedient way out for officials charged with ensuring national security. Such an approach, no matter how well intentioned, is not sustainable – not for airlines nor for General Aviation. Further, there are those European States who typically have not accepted American STCs, even on American-produced aircraft. Instead, the Europeans demand the generation of their own paperwork. “You may fly if we, the authorities, have very detailed regulations to ensure a high degree of control over what you do”.

Canadian aviators no longer live uninfluenced by the rest of the world. As migration moves people about, so are attitudes imported and exported. Some of this exchange is unintentional, but much of it is intentional – as in the case of ‘harmonization’ of aviation regulations. Much of what is imported is beneficial to our country; however there is some which is not. For example, we must remain vigilant that as we come under the influence of the international community, the freedoms we as a nation have so carefully cultivated -- freedoms won at great cost -- remain intact. Our freedom to fly is but one example of an attitude inherent in the Canadian psyche. We consider our idea of individual freedom to be one of the great ideas of modern civilization. We cannot allow this powerful idea to erode. It must not erode, because we believe that with freedom comes increased potential for peace and prosperity. Rather than allowing less free nations to dilute our freedoms, it behooves us as a free people to encourage the growth of freedoms elsewhere. Because we prize freedom, influences from outside our own country that impact on our freedoms should first be challenged and proven in our own context before they are assimilated.

IAOPA (The International Council of Aircraft Owners and Pilots Associations) is the only international organization devoted to fostering freedom to fly within the world-wide General Aviation community. It is privileged to have a voice at ICAO, the International Civil Aviation Organization, where world-wide aviation regulations (and the harmonizing of) are hammered out. For this reason, COPA – Canada’s Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association – is happy to actively participate in IAOPA. COPA believes in supporting and nurturing freedom of flight globally and in encouraging other nations to be accountable for their actions concerning aviation. By increasing freedoms internationally, we ensure that we in Canada are protected from the blight of over-regulation as it often is practiced elsewhere.

Let us be vigilant of our Canadian acquired rights, our freedom to fly, and guard these freedoms jealously and aggressively. Support your respective pilot organizations as they attempt to ensure that our own aviation bureaucrats and administrators remain accountable for their attitudes and actions.

Frank Hofmann
IAOPA Representative to ICAO
COPA Secretary and Quebec Director

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

News from ICAO

Report of IAOPA Presence at ICAO

Most pilots don’t believe that what happens at the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) matters to them, that ICAO concerns itself only with commercial international air travel.

That used to be the case.

To show you how things have changed, let me recount some of the International Council of Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association’s (IAOPA) insights and activities these last few months.

ICAO itself is in transition – trying to re-align itself with a new business plan, a reduced and reducing budget, trying to live with post-WWII (1944) Articles which were developed by 53 States instead of the current 190, with new staff and results of Universal Safety Oversight Program (USOAP) audits indicating low level of compliance with ICAO’s Standards and Recommended Practices (SARPS). These SARPS are adopted to meet ICAO objectives including safety and efficiencies. Naturally General Aviation (GA) concerns are pushed into the background by these institutional upheavals.

The USOAP program has found a low level of compliance with ICAO SARPs among States. In addition, States do not wish their level of non-compliance to be made public. In fact, in addition to non-compliance, States have filed over 11,000 differences with the ICAO SARPs. Although ICAO is attempting to develop a list of ‘Safety-critical’ SARPs, it is not generally understood that what is ‘safety-critical’ depends largely on the phase of flight. There are no absolutes. As well, there is a strong move afoot to convert the SARPs to a ‘Performance-based’ status. Again, some standards don’t lend themselves to that form – runway length and width, for example. It hardly seems that there is actually any uniformity in the application of internationally agreed Standards and Practices. Discussion is on-going on the need to segregate out safety-critical standards, giving further rise to the fear that standards may be neglected. In fact a new Unified Strategy Program has been launched which will attempt to provide assistance to States regarding the sharing and exchange of information, transparency, partnerships and alliances in the hope that the differences will be minimized. It may be worrying to outsiders that this cooperation has not been ingrained since the inception of ICAO in 1944. GA easily gets lost in this traffic.

This varied application causes grief to pilots and aircraft owners within any State. The problem for GA is that the needs of GA and particularly the needs of aircraft owners are often not clearly understood by regulators in many States, and at ICAO by technical commissioners, the political/financial arm of ICAO (Council), and sometimes by the Secretariat. ICAO is a place where many forces converge and unfortunately IAOPA is not an officially recognized component of ICAO. IAOPA’s function primarily is to act as an advocate for GA, educating and sensitizing State representatives regarding our needs and concerns.

States adapt the requirements based on a variety of factors, including largely finances but also pressure from organized groups. Whereas States can control to a degree the extent of their costs by opting out of a requirement, it is IAOPA’s task to sensitize regulators that owners and pilots have no such control over compliance with regulations aimed at commercial operations. Frequently the impact on GA is overlooked.

One such issue beginning to surface is Carbon credits. As airlines trade credits, how will GA be able to trade credits? How many trees can we plant? The metrics by which we will eventually compare our activities are important. Will we agree to pounds of Carbon Dioxide per passenger seat mile? Would that be fair for a flight which ends up at its starting point? Are we going to use cars as the equivalent? Clearly we can’t use the same metrics as do airlines. This issue is rising in prominence, and is currently being discussed at ICAO. Will the Aircraft Emissions Standard in Annex 16 Vol. II mean the end of leaded avgas, if the standard is enforced? Will airliners creating higher pollution therefore receive preferential treatment concerning access to airspace and airports?

Noise management and certification is already with us. Europeans are already flying with larger mufflers attached to Cessna 150s. Will regulators (most of whom are not aircraft owners) succumb to the European solution?

Although ICAO has ‘Guidelines’ on land-use planning and management, regulators and municipalities are not held to these guidelines, creating ever more conflict with pre-existing airports.

Another issue is an air traffic management system which will be performance based. GA has to ensure that an appropriate metric is applied, one which measures different factors than those in which the airlines are interested. IAOPA will remain watchful.

IAOPA achieves its goals in a variety of ways. This year as IAOPA’s rep I attended all Air Navigation Commission meetings (a technical commission) held twice a week, attended Unmanned Aerial Systems symposia, participated in the Air Navigation Service Providers Performance Conference earlier this year, participated in the Language Proficiency Symposium, lobbied for changes in the ELT requirements, and participated in the Medical Provisions Study Group. I do my work by meeting with Council members, Commissioners and the Secretariat. We hold discussions, I demonstrate equipment, and I distribute both COPA newspapers and AOPA magazines. IAOPA has advanced the idea of using Personal Locator Beacons instead of the mandated fixed ELT. As well IAOPA has lobbied strongly that the severity of the Language Proficiency requirements be reduced for pilots flying VFR.

A number of the issues outlined here will be addressed and resolved this fall when ICAO holds its tri-annual Assembly. IAOPA will be happy to have had the opportunity to provide input, whatever the outcome.

Frank Hofmann
IAOPA Representative to ICAO.
COPA Quebec Director and Eastern Vice-Chair