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Thursday, October 23, 2014

Doug's Domain

Doug Vetter, ATP/CFI

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Doug's Aviation Maintenance Articles

(Image: Cessna 172 in for a 50 Hour Inspection)
A Cessna 172 with 180HP Conversion, in for a 50 Hour Inspection, Summer 2003

The ability to operate an airplane safety hinges on the quality of maintenance it receives. Here are some articles on various aircraft maintenance and upgrade topics. Listed in reverse chronological order.

Tire Replacement After 6 years, 600 hours of flight time, and perhaps 500 landings, it was time to do tires on the 172 -- ourselves. If you've ever wondered what's involved in replacing tires on the average general aviation airplane, check out this article.
Annual 2005: No Surprises Our committment to scheduled and preventative maintenance provides a no-surprises annual inspection, and some budget to do some additional work.
Avionics 2004: TIS and the GTX330 After 30+ years of service, our transponder was getting a bit long in the tooth, so we decided to upgrade it to a GTX330 supporting Traffic Information Services (TIS). This is a story of the installation process and my first impressions of the unit.
Charging System Failure There we were, minding our own business, enjoying a great day of late spring flying when I suddenly realized our alternator went offline. Here's the story of what happened, what caused it, and how we fixed it.
Fuel Tank Repair On the way back from the dynamic balancing, I had to drop the airplane off at Kress Aviation to have a stubborn fuel leak fixed. Yes, this is the same fuel leak we *thought* we fixed during the annual. Now we're pulling out the big guns!
Dynamic Propeller Balancing Shortly after the 2003 annual was completed, I noticed the new propeller and governor were working beautifully. Vibration had noticeably decreased. However, I didn't know if the propeller was fully balanced, so I made an appointment at Sensenich Propeller Service for a dynamic balance. Check out the equipment and the process.
Annual 2003 Almost six weeks, 55 shop hours and 65 squawks later, the 2003 annual is complete. Check out this three part article of the adventure.
Maintenance Focus: Fixing an Induction Leak After touching down at Altoona, PA one afternoon the engine just didn't feel right. We eventually traced the problem to an induction leak. Here's the story of how we fixed it.
A Tale of a 50 Hour Inspection Another fifty hours of flight in the 172 means another 50 hour inspection to take care of some routine and not-so-routine maintenance with a lot of help from my local IA mechanic.
FAA/PMA Parts, STCs, and 337's. With good intentions, we set about to install a PMA-approved part on a Cessna 172. I quickly learned info it really takes for a part to be legally installed on an airplane, and Parts Manufacturing Approval (PMA) isn't it. Includes helpful commentary from my local avionics shop owner.
"TIS" the season:
To shop for avionics!
Well, it's that time again -- time to upgrade the avionics stack and bring some new technology advances of recent years into our GA cockpit, including Traffic Information Services (TIS). Here's an account of my research into the myriad options available and the solution we ultimately chose.
Alternate Static Valves: Cheap Insurance Several years ago, the static system of an aircraft I'd been flying regularly plugged up in IMC, rendering my airspeed, altimeter, and VSI worthless. I just had a valve installed in a friend's aircraft I fly regularly for $450. Expensive, yes, but pretty cheap insurance from my perspective.