Archive for July, 2011

AmSafe’s air bag-seatbelts

Thursday, July 21st, 2011

Just a quick note before we head out to EAA AirVenture tomorrow.

The AmSafe air bag-seatbelts have been installed, just in time for the big show! Here’s how the system breaks down:

The air bag portion of the assembly is in the lap belt. The G-sensor unit and the inflation bottles (one per seat) are mounted beneath the floor. Should the airplane experience a 9-G deceleration within 45 milliseconds or so, the sensor trips the bottles and their helium-argon gas charges are sent to the air bags. These inflate, causing the seams of the lap belt to break open, and releasing the air bags. The rectangular-shaped air bags then inflate to protect an area that extends from above the front-seat occupants’ heads to their waists. This way, the head and torso are prevented from striking the glareshield, instrument panel, control yokes, and other interior elements. The air bags remain inflated for three to five seconds, then gradually deflate (the bags are made of a porous material).

The AmSafe system runs approximately $3,800 for the Cessna 182. Installations in other airplanes vary–for example, the Cessna 172’s system runs $3,200. Installtion time is six to eight hours. As for maintenance, the system must be checked annually (using an on-board diagnostic test port); the EMA (electronic module assembly, or G-sensing unit) must be refurbished every seven years; the EMA’s life limit is 14 years; and there’s a 10-year life limit on the inflation bottles.

For more information–and a video of the air bags in action–go to

Here’s a shot of the belts just before they were installed:

The lap belts are to the left and right, with the shoulder harnesses and inflation hoses in the center.

New seat rails … vital, but …

Tuesday, July 19th, 2011

The infamous Cessna “seat-slip” accidents of the 1970s and early 1980s prompted a recurring Airworthiness Directive to inspect the seat rails for wear. If the holes in those rails were elongated from wear, then disaster could strike.

The seat’s locking pins could slide out of the holes. This could produce fatal consequences on takeoff, when seats slid back as the airplane entered a climb attitude. What happened next is anybody’s guess. Most likely the pilot instinctively grabbed the control yoke in an attempt to pull himself forward. The result was a low-altitude stall.

The Crossover Classic was given new seat rails, thanks to McFarlane Aviation Products of Baldwin City, Kansas. That was a significant safety improvement. The new rails have nice, round holes that grip the seat locking pins firmly. And there are secondary seat stops farther aft on the rails, which serve as a backup.

In one blog I said that adding the new seat rails did away with the AD requiring inspections every 100 hours. I was wrong, McFarlane said. Though new seat rails may provide peace of mind, that 100-hour recurring inspection still stands. But I suspect that it will be quite some time before the freshly-installed rails will show any signs of wear.

In other news, the sweeps Skylane is being readied for its voyage to EAA AirVenture, which takes place from July 25-31 at Wittman Field in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. I’m planning on leaving the morning of Friday, July 22. Here’s hoping N182CX realizes its potential of  160-knot cruise speeds along the way! Those interested can check the ship’s progress on

Finishing touches, part deux

Wednesday, July 6th, 2011

We’re still not done! Just when you thought that nothing more could possibly be added, still more tweaks and improvements have been made to the Crossover Classic. When will this end? Probably right up to the time we hand the keys over to the lucky winner.

Some of you may recall that the airplane’s full-fuel payload amounted to a mere 353 pounds–as of a weighing that took place in May. You can thank the extra 24 gallons (worth 144 pounds) in the tip tanks for taking such a big bite out of the payload.

To the rescue came Trolltunes, Inc.’s gross-weight increase supplemental type certificate (STC). By adding the Trolltune STC, max gross takeoff weight jumps 150 pounds–from the stock 182P’s 2,950 pounds to the latest and greatest MTOW of 3,100 pounds. Presto! With a little bit of paperwork the airplane is now graced with a 503-pound full-fuel payload. Now two people and bags can make full use of the airplane’s speed and range. For this, I’d suggest climbing to altitude, dialing back the power a tad, and perhaps using the Mountain High oxygen system to take advantage of tailwinds.

The Trolltune STC does come with some limitations. For example, with the Cobham/S-TEC System Fifty-Five X autopilot aft limits of the center of gravity envelope moves forward one inch. But I’ve done sample loading problems and find this isn’t a grave problem unless you’ve loaded the aft baggage compartment to the max.

The other limitation gives the airplane a maximum landing weight. That weight is 2,950 pounds–the max takeoff weight of the stock Cessna 182P. So if you take off weighing 3,100 pounds, you’d have to fly around long enough to burn off that extra 150 pounds in order to land. Land heavier than 2,950 pounds, and the STC requires an inspection of the landing gear. In all, those limitations are small prices to pay for the extra payload. Do you agree? I thought so.

In other news, AmSafe’s seat-belt airbags are being installed on the two front seats. Let there be no doubt: The AmSafe belts give the Crossover Classic a big safety advantage. Which, of course, we hope no one ever realizes. The AmSafe air bag is enclosed in the lap belt portion of the assembly. On-board sensors detect sudden decelerations, and then the bags inflate, preventing the front seat occupants’ heads, necks, and torsos  from striking the instrument panel and control yokes. The belts meet the 16-g deceleration protection standards set down in FAR Parts 25 and 121.

Air Mod, an AmSafe installation facility and interior shop located at Batavia, Ohio’s Clermont County Airport, will be installing the AmSafe gear–as well as H3R Aviation’s halon fire extinguisher.

PS Engineering has added to the excitement by offering its latest version of its very popular PMA8000BT audio panel. The new version has its function buttons clearly labelled, making their use highly intuitive. The function buttons let you and/or your passengers listen to ATC, music, or intercom transmissions in any combination–plus make telephone calls via the unit’s Bluetooth capability. You’ll be hearing more from us about the PMA8000BT in upcoming reports in AOPA Pilot.

Well, that’s it for now. After N182CX gets its third oil change–and its first with Aeroshell 15W50 semi-synthetic ashless dispersant engine oil–it’s off to Air Mod for those AmSafe belts. With some 45 hours under its belt, the new engine’s oil level has stabilized at the 10-quart level. The time to make the switch from mineral oil to ashless dispersant has arrived!

Many thanks to PS Engineering, Trolltune, AmSafe, and H3R Aviation for these late-breaking, excellent improvements.