Before we started the installation on Phil's TR-182 I asked him to write about the installation; giving his feelings on time, price and how he was treated. I didn't realize the he was keeping a Diary on the progress of the job and the events during arose during the installation. Starting 2004 we are asking all aircraft owners who have a major installation completed at our shop to write about their experience. Good or bad, I'll put it up on the website without editing it. Below is an "unedited" letter I receive from Phil with regards to the installation we recently completed on his nice TR-182.
thought I would start this letter just after I saw your first note about the 182
words (for those who might be wondering) about how I came to the current
avionics list. I had been looking for a
TR182 for quite sometime. After about
six months of looking I came across this 182 which only had about 1200 original
hours on it and has been hangered all of its life. Everything about it was in excellent
condition. After an extensive pre-buy
and eventual annual inspection, the deal was done and this TR182 had a new
home. The Cessna avionics (RT385s etc)
are just fine and they all worked (amazingly) and for that era aircraft, they
are not too bad. Unfortunately, this is
the year 2004 and they are a bit long in the tooth.
quite a number of hours flying with a King 550 MFD and a KLN 94 in another
aircraft, I initially thought about an entire King package. However, during the course of my research, it
appeared that I would be able to get more functional bang for the buck if I did
a best of breed approach. This would
mean that the choice of avionics shop would be critical as not only would they
have to know their stuff but be able to function as a true systems
first requirement was for an HSI. While
I know that excellent approaches and navigation can be done with traditional VOR
heads and perhaps I am getting lazy in my old age, but an HSI was a must have as
part of the upgrade (five years as a commercial airline pilot made me really
miss not having one). The main candidate
here was the Bendix King KCS 55
the only question was Sandell or the standard
King head. After consulting not only
with Avionics West but other avionics shops, I decided on the King KI-525 HSI
to the GPS portion. I was spoiled by the
King KLN 94 and the 550 combination (it is an excellent one) and seriously
considered this as a possibility. I had
already reluctantly eliminated the Garmin 530 from this competition. It does not have the built-in capability of
displaying airways on the screen. While
an excellent device (I have flown it several times), displaying airways was also
a must have. This led me to consider
both the Avidyne and the CNX-80/MX-20 Combination. I eventually settled on the CNX-80/MX-20
combination. While a bit nervous about
the Garmin acquisition, early indications are that Garmin is going to throw its
full support behind this potent combination.
wanted weather to be displayed near real time in the cockpit on the MFD. This posed some challenges. I really liked the infrastructure of the King
system (did not like the current Garmin approach). I also took a long look at the Avidyne MFD
system for quite a while as well. The
500 looked like an excellent piece of gear but it seemed that the MX-20 was
better matched for the CNX-80. Since I
decided to stay with the CNX-80?MX-20 combination, WSI won this round.
second NAV, I chose a KX 155 and a KI 209 VOR/GS head. This gave me a redundant Nav/Com capability
as well an additional glideslope receiver independent from the CNX 80.
came the most controversial item of all innocently disguised as an ADF. I took more heat from more people about the
ADF than I could have possibly imagined.
Of course, everyone told me about how I didnt need one (in spite of the
current AIM recommendation about primary navigation and GPS)
but from my
perspective, there is nothing as satisfying as flying a good ADF approach
the head, pull the tail is a mantra that still rings in my head. I also thought that having a slaved ADF
indicator provide some degree of backup in the event that the HSI head would
give up the ghost. Plus, at some point,
I plan on flying the plane to Europe and an ADF will still qualify as a
secondary long range navigation system
plus I just plane wanted one!!!
disguised controversial item came up soon thereafter; the DME. Again, perhaps as a throwback to my previous
flying, I could not imagine a panel without a DME installed. I had specified a KN-62 as part of the total
package and once again was subject to lots of grief from my flying family as
everyone wanted me to give up both the DME and the ADF.
came the collision detection/avoidance system.
I looked very hard at simply installing a mode S transponder and relying
uniquely on the TIS system
my brother had this in his airplane and while he is
very happy with it in terminal areas, it does have major coverage gaps. What really convinced me was a relatively
recent trip to the SF Bay area. During
our approach and decent into Livermore, we received no TIS information. So, on to active Collision Avoidance Systems,
I went. The Skywatch system was the
finalist here. Since I had active CAS, I
elected to purchase previously referenced family members GTX-327 for the
transponder and install a Garmin Audio panel.
the Autopilot. The original Cessna
autopilot was pretty marginal at best. I
selected an S-TEC 55x with altitude hold.
That rounded out the basic package
and it was this package that went to
three of what I consider the best avionics shops in the country including
Avionics West, for bid.
the course of creating this package, there was lots of discussion about various
options. I even took a trip down fantasy
lane and considered installing a Chelton system. In order to afford that (yes, there was a
limited budget here), I would have had to keep the old analogue avionics. Having an old RT-385 drive a Chelton for the
VOR/ILS portion did not seem like such a great idea. So I left my fantasy on my laptop and stuck
with the originally specd gear. As it
turned out, that was the right decision as there would be additions along the
way that I had not anticipated Had I done the Chelton, I would not have had an
all the shops were responsive to my questions (with this much gear, I kind of
expected that), Avionics West was over the top in terms of being
responsive. Toms knowledge of how these
systems work from a pilots perspective and his ability to give real world input
was invaluable. Kevin who does the
actually system engineering is an uncanny source of all sorts of little known
gotchas that will help you keep out of trouble.
addition to being astonishingly responsive and knowledgeable, they were by far
the most competitive on price. They beat
the other shops hands down. They are
also the most open shop that I found.
They put their work up on their website for all to see. When I checked out there website, I was
amazed. Not just one or two showcase
airplanes but DOZENS of examples of their work.
Nothing hidden here. After
visiting their facility, there was little doubt in my mind that this was the
place to have this relatively significant amount of work done.
that, I gave Avionics West a deposit, reserved a slot and started to wonder how
I was going to cope without having my baby for eight weeks.
approached the day to deliver the aircraft, I began to realize that there were
several major areas that I had overlooked.
For example, this being a TR182, I had not thought about an Engine
Monitor. In addition, the sight of all
this modern equipment sitting next to my almost 25 year old Cessna gauges
started to cause concern. Then during
the panel planning process that I was doing on my own, it happened
.what to do
with the WX-10a that is currently installed in the airplane.
get me wrong, the WX-10a is a terrific piece of gear
I have used it several
times and it works great
but in discussing its potential relocation on the
panel, I discovered that the existing cable was too short and that a longer (and
relatively expensive one) would have to be ordered from the factory. Then came the bad news
WX-10a parts arent
made anymore. Yes they can be found on
the secondary market but. . .if the wrong thing breaks and you cant find it
more WX-10a. In addition, one of my
FUTURE plans (along with a Radar Altimeter) was to install a WX-500. I discovered that there is a fair amount of
wiring that needs to be done for this installation and that by waiting, I was
guaranteeing myself a fairly large effort for a secondary project. I wanted to try and do this once and not have
to tear into the aircraft again and again to add things later.
thought processes about additional project scope relatively under control, I
began discussions with Avionics West about changing the scope of the work; by
some measures, fairly significantly. The
first addition, of course, was the WX-500 to replace the WX-10a and free up one
of those valuable 3 inch holes. Next
came the EDM 700. Just having a single
CHT and a single EGT gauge on a Turbocharged aircraft did not seem like quit
enough (the original Cessna gauges). A
Fuel Scan 450 was added to be interfaced with the CNX-80 for fuel to
waypoint/destination calculations and an STEC 360 to add altitude preselect
capability for the autopilot. We also
added a series of EI gauges to replace the original Cessnas.
time the airplane was at Avionics West and a few squawks had surfaced. The old original Cessna encoder did not have
an RS-232 output and would have to be replaced.
Avionics West also had an IA look over the aircraft (by now it was REALLY
apart) and he recommended that the Corrosion Proofing treatment (ACF 50) be
renewed. There were a few other items
that came up but nothing (so far) significant.
measure of a company is not how they treat you when you are a perspective
customer but how they treat you when you ARE a customer. Avionics West were just as aggressive on
the pricing of the additional work as they were on the original bid. It is rare these days to find a shop that has
as much conscience and ethics as they do. No leveraging the fact that my aircraft was
already disassembled in their hangar
no inflation of prices
just honest, up
front people whose word is as good as any written contract. It would have been easy for them to take
advantage of me but they did not. In my
opinion, this speaks volumes about the business ethics here
maintenance facilities should take note.
write this, Kevin and I are working on the final design of the upper panel
layout. Lots of questions and lots of
thinking about where you want to have what.
After all, these are not decisions that can be changed easily
afterwards. A few words about panel
design, it is HARD. When you buy an
aircraft from Cessna or Piper, there is really not too much to think about on
the panel. What the factory designed,
you get. Here, you get to rearrange
everything and anything (except the basic T) so you really have to think through
how things are set up and how you work in the cockpit. You begin to think about your cockpit
workflow or checklist flow and how you want to integrate those activities into
your new panel. A lot of sitting and
thinking about the various scenarios and which button or knob you want
TRAINING: Dont skip this part. I am writing this
section several days later. I wanted to
add something about training. While I
consider myself a fairly proficient pilot (about 5,500 hours and four type
ratings), there is a paradigm change happening in General Aviation and it all
surrounds the introduction of GPS. In
the old days, you could pretty much jump into any airplane that had a pair of
nav/coms, GS, MB and transponder and you would know how to make it all
work. The VOR heads looked or worked
pretty much the same way and the information was presented to you pretty much
the same way. The human interface to the
equipment (knob twisting) was pretty much the same as well.
introduction of GPS, that is no longer true.
These are complex systems with an incredible array of both technology,
features and sophistication (and accuracy).
A pilot who is extremely proficient at the use of a KLN94 will be pretty
much all thumbs in front of a CNX-80 or a Garmin 530 and vice versa. Can they learn it
but that is exactly my
point. TRAINING is a requirement and to
that end, I discovered that Avionics West offers hands on training in both the
Garmin 530 and the CNX-80. I enrolled in
the CNX-80 and spent an entire day in their training facility (yes, they have a
real one with REAL gear to work on) learning the basics of the CNX-80. The instructors knowledge of the device was
extensive but more importantly, the course followed a specific curriculum and
had specific goals and objectives. It
wasnt a Let me show you a few things but a formal structured presentation of
how to get the most out of the device.
While I am far from proficient with the device, I wont be intimidated by
it either and can now boast a firm understanding of its Principles of
Operations so that I can focus my real attention on becoming proficient in its
West also sells a docking station for the CNX-80
I have ordered one. This will allow me to dock the CNX-80 at home
and put it into simulator mode and really learn how to use the unit. While I have not picked up the airplane, I
believe that this will significantly reduce workload when I do pick up the
airplane. When I receive mine, I will
comment on my experience.
West also offers a series of CDs
again, these are VERY worthwhile. They are computer based training CDs and so
far, I have completed the ones for the Skywatch system and the Stormscope
(WX-500). While I had experience with
TCAS II as a commercial pilot, I found that a lot had changed with the
development of active TAS or TCAS I systems.
Even thought I have not yet flow a single hour with the Skywatch system,
I feel very confident that I know how to use it
how to interpret it
importantly what its capabilities and limitations are. If you are getting a bunch of new
additional few days have past and we have encountered what I would consider to
be the first real setback on this project.
Bad news came today in the form of a phone call from Kevin. Of course, as any pilot, I had wanted the
maximum number of radios and displays in the avionics central stack. Initially it appeared that we would have a
stack that looked like the following:
Audio Panel, Autopilot, MX-20, CNX-80, DME, KX-155. When I had initially proposed this to Kevin,
he was not sure that it would work since there are cables and hydraulics in the
back and that until they got everything out and started building the Center
stack, they wouldnt know for sure.
reason, Cessna decided to route the gear hydraulic lines right behind where the
Autopilot would normally go (at the bottom of the panel). These autopilot control heads are relatively
shallow and normally there is not a problem.
Unfortunately, the KX-155 is deeper than just a few inches so this means
that something has to give. Do I move
the DME to the substack on the right side?? Do I move the KX-155 and move the
transponder down? Bummer, bummer,
bummer. This is the first real glitch in
the installation and unfortunately there doesnt appear to be an easy way to
violate the laws of physics. We could
saw the KX-155 in half to make it fit but Kevin said the guarantee would
change. He guaranteed it would fit but
couldnt guarantee it would work. He did
suggest that I consider an SL-30. Being
very thin (and thereby elevating the stack), it could pass where the KX-155
couldnt. The problem is that the SL-30
does not simulataneously display the nav and com frequencies. UGH.
lots of discussion, we decided to move the DME to the right side of the panel
would install a plate under the stack and install the handheld jack there. That would make access to that jack a bit
easier in the event of an emergency rather than having it on the co-pilots side
but it is still a bummer not being able to have the DME in the center
news came in today. The bell crank for
the aileron had some corrosion in the bolt attachment. I have learned that one of the bellcranks is
specially designed to accommodate an autopilot and the other is a standard bell
crank. Avionics West suggested that I
consider having the other bell crank inspected just in case there was any
corrosion that needed to be corrected.
The inspection is about an hours worth of work but if there are issues,
it looks like possibly five hours of labor with the local A/P. Corrosion makes
me very nervous (former 1979 172 owner) and I decided to proceed. There are some other areas of surface
corrosion but there is no visible corrosion at the seams and no corrosion on the
main spar which I have been told are two of the most important items. I have been reassured that fogging the
aircraft with ACF-50 should take care of this in the short term and prevent it
from becoming a significant problem in the long term. I have also been advised that the ACF-50
treatment should take place with no more than a two year interval between
treatments. The plane is normally
hangared so hopefully I will get a two year run out of the treatment.
READ, and READ some more. During the
course of this final phase of the panel planning, I have been peppering poor
Kevin with question after question. The
Internet is a wonderful place where you can download not only operating manuals,
but in many cases (as in the CNX-80) installation manuals. These are important as they show EVERY single
interface possible with the device. The
wiring of your avionics ends up being custom down to which buss do you want
which device on as well as the interfacing which also ends up being custom. For example, in the CNX-80
there is an input
to receive the serialized code (25 foot increments) from the encoding
altimeter. This can be passed from the
80 to the MX-20. The advantage here is
that when you make a Baro correction to the 20, it is also passed to the
80. Interesting interaction that I would
not have been aware of without digging through the manuals. My strong recommendation is READ the manuals
understand the exact interaction between devices
and ask lots of
more days have passed since my last update to this now six page letter. There has been a bit of good news. The bell crank inspection went very
well. In fact, the A & P said that
it was in very good shape and looked almost new. Since the airplane has been pretty much
hangared all of its life, that was reassuring.
How the other bell crank got corrosion on its bolt will forever be a
mystery BUT that is one less thing to worry about.
Yesterday, the docking station for the CNX-80 came. WOW I would strongly recommend that you get a docking station for this whatever GPS device you are purchasing. I was able to spend almost two hours last night going through the basics of the device. Even though I have been to a day-long class, this really lets me take my time and try things over and over again until I am sure that I understand them. With the 80, there are some very unique features that can be real time savers you can go without them and use it as a normal GPS but there is so much capability built into this unit, if you dont practice and understand it, you wont be able to take advantage of it.
more days have past since I last added to this letter. Tom is posting to the Avionics West website
pictures of the plane as it goes through the various phases
and it is clear that
really good progress is being made. For
almost two weeks, Kevin and I spoke every day
discussion various options and
interfaces. Discussing in detail how
this or that particular item would work or would be wired. Friday was the first call from Kevin that I
had in three days
I think that this is a sign that things are finally calming
down and that the majority of the detail has been worked out.
item was how to arrange the switches for the Skywatch and the DME. The autopilot requires three toggle
switches. We decided that we would have
a row of five toggles just beneath the Autopilot Altitude Preselect. The first three would be the three for the
autopilot, the next switch would be for the Skywatch system followed by the DME
words about the Skywatch system. We are
going to wire this system to the avionic bus.
That takes care of the basic on/off functionality. Within the Skywatch, there are three modes of
operations. One is Standby
the second is Sensitivity A where the unit will issue a Traffic
Advisory within .2 nautical miles and plus or minue 600 feet
this is designed
for terminal operations. There is third
mode call Sensitivity B where the unit will issue a Traffic Advisory within .55
nautical miles and plus or minue 800 feet
.so the fourth switch would be a three
position toggle. Lowest position would
be standby, the middle position would be for terminal operations and the upper
position would be for enroute operations.
This switch could also be wired to the landing gear (up would give you
enroute, down would give you terminal) but Avionics West suggested that having a
separate switch gives you more flexibility.
want to look at local traffic while you are still on the
.want to keep it in enroute mode even though the gear are
switch is the standard DME channeling switch.
Up will be for Nav 1 (the CNX-80) and down will be for Nav 2 (the
KX-155). Pretty standard stuff
that I mentioned the docking station earlier but I wanted to come back to that
item. GET ONE!!!. I have been able to program in checklists for
my airplane as well as several flight plans that I will be able to use when the
unit is installed in the airplane. I
have done all sorts of flying in California (in simulator mode) and have gotten
relatively proficient with the unit (I still have lots to learn, no doubt). The ability to get familiar with the unit
BEFORE you use it in the airplane as well as being able to customize it
beforehand is extremely valuable. This
is one piece of gear that, just like in the simulator, I will be very familiar
with even on the very first flight.
While I dont know as much about the Garmin units, I suspect that these
would be invaluable for them as well (I sure wish I had one a couple of years
back when I was learning the KLN-94).
Nits: As you might imagine, Avionics West is quite
a facility when it comes to avionics.
They also have an A & P (who happens to be an IA as well) who does
the non-avionics work. They inspected
the bell crank referenced above and installed the standby vacuum pump. As it turns out, during the inspection of the
aircraft, a few interesting non-avionics items came up. First, and somewhat surprisingly, the oil
filter safety wire was on backwards. I
have the picture and you can be sure that the shop that did the 50 hour
inspection the day before I took the airplane to Santa Maria and I will be
having quite a conversation. As you can
also imagine, areas of the airplane are exposed that normally dont get
especially in the headliner
so the addition of some new rubber fuel
hoses (they were original and starting to crack), the replacement of some static
wicks that were broken and a visual inspection of the MLG saddles and swivels
(why not, the airplane is wide open) will round out what will happen that is not
called today. One of the items that I
had asked A/W to complete was the replacement of all of the coax. It seemed silly to put in this much avionics
and still be using the same 20 year old coax.
I also asked them to carefully evaluate the condition of the
antennas. Unfortunately, the rear
antennas for the VORs have to be replaced.
Antennas have something called a p-static coating. This was completely worn off on my
antenna. A couple of choices here
replace the rods for $360 dollars and use the old base or get a new antenna
including rods and base for $400. That
was a no brainer and proceeded to give the OK.
If that is the worst of the bad news I receive during this project, I
will be very happy.
few more days have passed and it was time for lower panel planning fun. This took a bit more work than I had
originally thought it would. There are
two things that you have to decide at this phase of the project. The order of the switches and what each
switch and circuit breaker label will be.
The order of the switches was probably the most time consuming. What order do you normally turn switches on
in? How do you want the switches
grouped? What exact labelling do you
want on the switches (should it say BCN or Rot. Bcn.)? Lots an lots of decisions here. Rather than working with Kevin (who has been
the major planner in the project), I worked directly with Tom Knoll who is the
technical supervisor of the project and who is featured in some of the pictures
on the website.
the pleasures of dealing with A/W is their practical use of modern
technology. It is not gadgety but
effective. The layout that Tom sent me
was in spreadsheet form but actually showed how the physical layout and
relationship between the switches and circuit breakers would be on the
panel. This allow us to both be looking
at the exact same thing and any corrections that I made could immediately be
sent back for Tom to review
even while we were on the phone.
about an hour on the phone working throught the lower switch panel layout
decided that we would have the Avionics Master
then the Rotating
Beacon, Nav Lights, Strobes, Pitot Heat, Prop Heat, D-Ice Light
some more space
(at this point we are right under the yoke) with the Taxi and Landing light to
the far right side. What is great about
this is that I have three spare switch spots in the event that I decide down the
road to add additional functionality. We
then got to plan out the order and labelling of the avionics on the avionics
bus. Again...lots of tiny decisions to
be made here as to exactly what you want things to say and exactly what order
you want them in. We even went ahead and
pre-labelled an empty CB slot with RDR ALT in the event that someday I
actually add one to the airplane. This
is one of the true joys of having a completely custom panel set-up
custom and exactly the way that you want it.
woes: Earlier in this article, I
mentioned that I was planning on flying the airplane to Europe. It has been something that I have long dreamt
about doing in a single and have tentatively set the Summer of 2005 as the trip
date. I had initially rejected a Mode S
transponder as I had the active Skywatch system which provides much more
functionality than TIS. The bad news is
that I have recently been able to confirm that after March of 2005, ANY aircraft
that wishes to fly IFR in Europe MUST have a Mode S transponder which meets the
requirements of Level two elementary surveillance.
into research mode I went to discover exactly what the heck that meant. I knew that Garmins GTX 330 met the
requirements according to the website but I had been hoping that perhaps a
remote Mode S might become available that I could channel with the CNX-80. That option no longer appeared practical
back to Europes requirements
here they are in a nutshell:
also means that the transponder must be wired just so. A/W immediately started researching this
subject as we were getting different answers from Garmin U.S. and Garmin U.K. as
to exactly how this worked. Garmin U.S.
said that the transponder will transmit a mode S signal even when in
Garmin U.K. said nope, Standby means Standby and that you need an
Air/Ground switch to transmit Mode S on the ground. As Mode S in not a requirement (yet) there is
no formal recommendation for the air ground mode item (the last item) for GA
aircraft here in the states. In many
European airports, ground interrogation of Mode S transponders is common. Aircraft that weigh more than 12,500 lbs or
go faster than 250 knots must also have Mode S with diversity (meaning two
antennas one top-one bottom).
Fortunately the 182 does NOT qualify for diversity.
the upshot of all of this
I had to make a very late change with A/W and ask that
at GTX 330 be installed. The good news
is that they had not yet closed up the panel
and that it would primarily require
the installation of a different plug in the back of the rack to accommodate the
GTX-330 rather than the GTX 327. On the
business side of things
again, true to form, A/W gave me a very aggressive price
on the GTX-330 and even took in trade the GTX-327 making this an extremely easy
decision on the financial end of things.
write this, we have not quite figured out how to enable the flight status
reporting. One possibility is that we
hook it up to the Skywatch three position switch so that mode S in enabled when
the Skywatch switch in in the StandBy position (which is where it will be most
of the time
work takes time. We were rounding the
final curve when WHAM. Further
delay. The process for producing the
custom panels is pretty involved. After
being properly prepared and cut, the panels are sent to a special shop that
applies the powder coating which forms the base color of the panel (pacaderm
gray in my case). Once the coating is
completed, it goes back to A/W for QA (yes
they even QA the coating) and from
there, they send them off to a special engraving shop in Nevada. This shop actually engraves the panel
markings into the powder coating (not the underlying metal). What this does is provide permenant white
lettering which does not discolor or rub off over time and looks very
professional. When this engraving is
completed, the panels are shipped back to A/W for further QA verification. Unfortunately, when the right lower switch
panel came back, the flap degree markings were in the wrong place
so the lower
switch panel is going back to the powder coating shop to be stripped and
then off to engraving
and back to A/W for installation. Unfortunately, this will result in an
unplanned delay of about 10 days.
news is that during this avionics down time, the mechanics are busy on the
airplane putting in the new rubber fuel hoses, inspecting the MLG actuators and
installing new static wicks on the airframe.
They will also be fogging the aircraft with ACF 50 so I should be
corrosion proofed for at least two years.
meantime, the Mode S controvery continues.
Garmin UK has told us exactly how Mode S operates on the ground. Unfortunately, this is in exact contrast to
what Garmin US has told us. Kevin got
suspicious when calling Garmin US and was getting slightly different
answers. In discussions with the Garmin
UK folks, the answers changed again. I
am sure that somewhere within Garmin, there is someone who knows EXACTLY how the
Mode S will work on the Ground (GND) mode.
I had to
give up my CNX-80 this past weekend. I
had been using the CNX-80 quite a bit in
the docking station (but about 22 hours of flying on it) learning as much
about its operation as I could
the good news here is that Tom needed it back as
it was time to start programming the unit for the airplane. I rented a 182 and flew to SMX
that also gave
me a chance to take a look at the airplane and realize that it is starting on
the path of being put back together rather than being taken apart. We also finally go the definitive word on the
for proper mode S operation, the unit should be left in the
ALT position. When on the ground and
there is no appropriate Mode S inquiry, the unit will stay in standby
it is on the ground via a 429 interface with the GPS unit)
if there is a mode S
sweep, the unit will sense it and go into GND mode which means that it is
squittering mode S. Of course, when
airborne, you end up with modes A, C, and S.
glitches and honesty. Last Friday, the
truly unexpected glitch hit. When the
lower left panel (pilot side) arrived at A/W (it was on a slightly different
schedule than the lower right due to its complexity and customization), it
appeared to be properly put together.
Upon much closer examination as part of their QA process, it turned out
that the Battery/Alternator switch position labels were reversed. What does this mean? Unfortunately, it means that the cycle has to
start again except this time it is the lower left panel. Back to the powder coater
back to the
with QA stops in between. I had
a chance to speak directly with Tom this morning. He told me that while the flap indicator was
a definite error on the engravers part, the mis-labeling was caused by a glitch
in one of the computer programs that A/W uses and that it was not the engravers
fault on this one. Tom did not have to
tell me this. He could have very easily
blamed the engraver and I would have been none the wiser. But, again, the ethics of A/W really surfaced
during this incident. Am I happy that a
glitch occurred? Of course not. But I am happy that it is being
professionally handled by folks who are extremely picky about what goes into my
avionics panel and by folks who are not afraid to admit to making an error and
who do the right thing to correct it.
ALIVE. Today I received a series of
pictures that were actually taken by the IA that works in Toms area. It seems that after the panel incident, Tom
needed a few days off of picture taking duty to recover. In the meantime, progress has apparently been
fast and furious. The lower right panel
arrived and by the next day the lower right panel was installed with the upper
right side following shortly thereafter.
The next day the lower left panel arrived as well and the upper left was
also quickly installed. The pictures
that I saw were the ones of the first power on tests of the aircraft. It is interesting to know that this is not
the first time the equipment has been powered on. Apparently it gets powered on before the
harness is installed
after the harness is installed and then upon actual
installation. That way, A/W can be sure
that nothing gets missed as this extremely complex installation comes to
life. One interesting problem was
discovered as part of the integration testing.
The Skywatch system would not work.
Turned out that a factory supplied coax had an RF short in it. Not visible at DC voltage levels but when RF
it simply would not function.
A quick replace of three coax cables (they all must be the same length)
and we were back in business.
goes well, they will be doing ground run tests and hopefully the actual flight
test. A/W has warned me that even though
they test everything on the ground first, it is not unusual at all for there to
be a series of small squawks that need to be worked upon after the test
flight. And then, of course, another
test flight to verify that they have been corrected. The good news is that we are starting to get
close to the end of what has been a very major project. There can still be delays but now we are
really closing in on completion.
minute glitch. As any good story should
have, there should be some last minute glitch just to make sure that everyone
stays on their toes. One of the
advantages of the A/W approach to things is testing, testing and more
testing. They discovered that my
rotating beacon was causing the new Horizontal Situation Indicator to swing as
much as 20 degrees everytime it flashed.
So a quick trip to the supply shop for the installation of a Whelen
strobe. Once installed, the HSI was as
solid as a rock.
of the pickup was as professionally handled as all of the rest of the items that
have been dealt with. Everything was
incredibly organized. Kevin had a three
ring binder already set up with every 337, the new W & B, and all of the
other paperwork (and there was a ton) that came with the equipment. Nothing to get lost here and it was clear
that a ton of work (by Kevin) went into the production of this binder. Now, I have everything relating to this
install in one place
a very professional approach to a very complex paperwork
exercise. We did a quick update to the
CNX-80 to make it IFR current
and a quick load of the ChartView functionality
into the MX-20 (very easy to do
we loaded all of the airports in the Western US)
and we were set.
I spent the entire day together. We
first spent about an hour in the airplane on ground power
then I spent another hour on my own in the airplane
then a thorough
test flight by Tom and I
and I mean thorough
we tested everything
the autopilot needed a slight tweak
plane solid as a rock
works EXACTLY as it should. I have made
three flights in the aircraft since this work has been completed
the CNX-80 is a
dream to operate
and the situational awareness provided by the MX-20 is hard to
describe. Overall, this has been a very
about the folks at Avionics West
these are amazing people. Would I do this again
absolutely. Avionics West is a contradiction. On one hand they have one of the most modern
facilities you could imagine. They
REALLY know their stuff and you wont find anyone who leverages technology
better than Avionics West. On the other
hand, they believe in doing the right thing.
They are almost old fashioned that way. They are conscientious, honest, fair and
represent the best qualities of the old days while embracing the best
qualities of the new days. These are
people who are honest to the extreme and have the kind of integrity that is hard
to find. Their guesses are better than
most peoples facts, their promises are better than most peoples guarantees,
their commitment to doing the right thing is better than most people actual
are considering major avionics work on your baby, this is a place that I would
recommend without hesitation. Half of
the adventure is the journey and the other half is the result which is an
incredible experience when you take delivery.
In the meantime, fly safe and keep the blue side up.