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Thread: NORDO: fly long enough...

  1. #1

    NORDO: fly long enough...

    I suppose if you fly long enough, it will probably happen; but, it's my
    fault that it happened to me.

    I was shooting an ILS practice approach in my Sierra with a safety pilot
    when I noted the CDI flags coming out intermittently. If I were in the
    soup, I'd have shot the missed and found another approach. After
    landing, I called my avionics guy and got an appointment for this
    morning to bring my mouse in for a check of the number 1 nav.

    This morning, during pre-flight, I noted a discharge on the meter; but,
    the volts were holding rock steady at 11.5. I'm used to seeing 13 on
    the guage. I thought about it for a second and with my very limited
    electrical background thought that maybe the nav problem was the CAUSE
    of the discharge and low volt condition. I shut off the radio and got
    an immediate jump toward zero on the needle. I elected to make the 20
    minute VFR flight to get it looked at. All went well and the radio
    bench tested perfectly. I started the plane back up and I had the same
    discharge showing and was still holding rock steady at 11.5 volts. It
    appeared that my home mechanic would need to get involved. What was
    good for one trip must be good for the second, right? Wrong.

    I climbed out and retracted the gear. I could hear the electrical noise
    associated with the gear coming up...something I never hear over the
    intercom. I looked down, no radios, no gear lights, and no voltage
    indicator (electric). The amp guage was still reporting the same as it
    was before. Alrighty then, 7600 in the transponder, shut down all
    unnecessary electrical including unplugging my GPS 396 so it will run on
    battery only. The flight home was quick with a nice tailwind pushing me
    along. I pulled my IFR knee board out because I knew I didn't remember
    all my light gun signals. I distinctly thought about clearing as many
    tasks as early as possible so that all I had to do was focus on the
    light gun signals and landing the airplane. 10 miles out, I dropped
    the gear; but, nothing happened. No problem. I wasn't expecting the
    gear to come down without electrical power. I pulled the fuse, left the
    gear handle down and took out the neat little red handle to open the
    hydraulic line. The mains snapped into place just like they always do
    when I do this during annual. Since my feet were flat on the floor, I
    wasn't able to feel any movement in the rudder pedals to convince me
    that the nose gear was down and locked. I din't' get the yaw movement
    that I've come to expect either. I had two dimly lit green lights
    showing that the mains were down. I checked to make sure it wasn't a
    bulb problem and it certainly was not. So much for eliminating issues.

    The tower never saw me coming. I entered the pattern; but, they don't
    have radar and weren't looking out the window. I had no way to ask if I
    could fly by the tower so they could verify my nose gear was down
    either. The plan was to set the airplane down as gently as possible,
    particularly the nose gear. Maybe that would be enough to lock it in
    place. I had a good feeling that the gear wasn't rotated 90 degrees out
    of position because of the way the airplane was flying. I turned final
    and start bleeding off more airspeed and then I felt it lock in place.
    Nonetheless, my landing was as smooth as ever with the nose high and the
    stall horn blaring in the background. The nose gear touched down more
    gently than I've ever put it down before.

    I thought I'd share what I learned from the experience.

    - I have no business trying to diagnose electrical problems from the
    cockpit when a perfectly good mechanic is due to arrive at work in half
    an hour. I should have brought the plane right back in. I surely
    shouldn't have done the flight twice.

    - I never once pulled out a checklist. I thought through what was going
    on and what was necessary to accomplish the flight and then did my
    standard cockpit flows to make sure I hadn't missed anything. I'm not
    sure that I'm completely happy about this; but, I also don't use a
    challenge/response checklist procedure anyway. I tend to use checklists
    to verify I've accomplished everything. I also really like flows and
    had my cockpit workload shot up tremendously I can't see me pulling out
    the POH for obscure procedures. I need to give this more thought.
    Maybe copying pertinent pages from the POH to add to my checklists might

    - Do the gear extension manually at annual time with your mechanic.
    It's a worthwhile experience. It's also a perfect setup for spacial
    disorientation if you have to look for the valve. I was able to do it
    by feel while keeping my head upright. I'd also try keeping my feet on
    the rudder pedals when I'm turning the valve next time. I missed the
    feedback through my feet. If it should happen again, I'll slow the
    airplane down miles out looking for the nose gear to snap in place,
    clearing this task and allowing me to focus on others...approach, light
    gun signals, landing, etc.

    - My avionics guy and I discussed adding a handlheld jack to my panel so
    I can use my outside antenna for the handheld I intend to buy. Had this
    happened under IFR, all I would have to navigate with would have been my
    GPS 396. I used to think why buy a handheld...what are the chances...
    Now I know and it's chilling to think of it. Strangely enough, I never
    had the same thoughts about the electric backup horizon I put in. I've
    also used that twice. Stuff happens and it's worth being prepared.

    Sorry the email is so long; but, I thought some of you might get some
    benefit from this experience.

    Oh, was the voltage regulator that went south.



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  2. #2

    NORDO: fly long enough...

    I'll let you second guess yourself about whether you should have made the second flight and the use of checklists, but my bottom line is:
    As the old fella sez ... "any landing you walk away from is a good one ... it's a really good one if you get to use the airplane again" ... you'll get to use it again!
    Paul Edwards
    2388Z at ERI

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  3. #3
    I consider these write-ups to be very worthwhile, for a lot of reasons. One is that, while we all tend to think it'll be 'the other guy', it really emphasizes the reality when it is one of our own, flying one of our own planes.

    I have had two in-flight alternator failures (one day IMC, one night IMC), one in-flight regulator failure, and two on-ground over-voltage relay failures. I keep a record of all my primary accessories and instruments in the 'Life-Limited Equipment' section of the aircraft log. This includes the alternator, starter, gyros, vacuum pump, etc. By having the life history on each item, I have a better chance of replacing them just before they expire in service. For example, my self-imposed life limits are 1,000 hours for the alternator, and 1,000 hours for the vacuum pump. Some might argue for even more conservative numbers.

    Not only does this avoid some risks, it reduces the opportunity for consequential damage and its costs. For example, the number one cause of premature vacuum pump failure is debris left in the hoses from a prior failure. It also lets me replace equipment at the lowest possible parts and labor cost, as opposed to being forced to have it done by a big shop someplace like Tampa International.

    While my Sierra is nothing fancy, I do have decent back-up capability. Hand-held Garmin GPS, plus ICOM hand-held Comm and Nav (with external antenna jack); electric AI in place of the Turn Coordinator; Precise-Flight Standby Vacuum System; and a large portable battery to plug into the lighter socket.

    My thanks to all of you who continue to add value to the BAC website, for the benefit of fellow members.

  4. #4
    I appreciate your comments and self review. We all learn from each other. One nice feature of the Sure Check brand checklist is the emergency procedures on the flip side. I also make the manual extension procedure in flight a part of all BFRs or aircraft checkout. It is a good thing to experience in flight and see what a handful 85kts is while flying a pattern and telling the tower to be quiet for a minute and reaching down between your feet for the valve.

  5. #5
    Since the NORDO note triggered this exchange, I thought I'd combine notes and post it in the same thread.

    There is a lot of info about all these topics on the BAC website. Examples:

    The original underfloor air ducts are notorious for pin-holing the retract
    and brake system lines.

    The 'book number' for the red in-transit gear light blinking is no more than
    once every thirty minutes. In reality, once every ten or fifteen minutes is
    probably not worth working on, as it will continue to change frequency with
    temperature and usage. But when it starts happening with both regularity
    and at a rapid rate (meaning every flight, and every few minutes), it is
    time to find the leak (internal or external). This type of problem is
    rarely caused by the pump itself; it is far more commonly caused by O-rings
    in the system (mostly in the three actuators). They will all blink with some
    frequency. Most owners just never notice, when the repeat rate is very low.

    Beech has made and sold out-of-tolerance parts for many years. I know if
    two instances for certain, in which poorly machined parts were preventing
    emergency extension. Every retract owner should see it done on jacks, and
    should have done it themselves in flight (at least once).

    Every Sierra owner should have the auxiliary nose gear downlock switch
    installed. It's not enough to know that the gear is down; you need to know
    that it is locked. At least three nose gear failures I know of could have
    been prevented, had the plane been equipped with the switch.

    The nose down-lock cylinder internal spring almost always takes a set due to
    the cylinder design. It needs to be shimmed with two or three washers, to
    restore its operating force on the lock.

    Anything that can be done, to rig the nose gear higher in its well, will
    noticeably increase cruise speed. It is one of the highest-drag places on
    the plane.

    The nose gear is commonly mis-rigged following a donut change, because the
    'book data' is simply wrong for both nose and mains.
    - You need to set the main gear donut stack height to 6.25" rather than
    6.5", in order to obtain the minimum one-half inch of tire-wheelwell
    clearance at the front of the wheel-well, with all tire brands and types.
    There is always plenty of room on the trailing side of the tire.
    - On the nose gear, with the specified parts installed, it is impossible to
    set the pin-to-casting distance to 3/4". If you do, the locking portion of
    the stop nut will not engage the threads; the tube is simply too short. If
    you tighten down the nut so that three or so threads show, as is commonly
    done, the pin height will be closer to one-half inch. The result is that
    the tire hits the hydraulic lines in the left (Pilot's) side of the
    wheel-well. The nut has to be set so that one thread barely protrudes past
    the stop nut. For this reason, I highly recommend a new nut along with new
    donuts, for the nose gear, when work is being done on it.

    -----Original Message-----
    From: rjf []
    Sent: Wednesday, June 06, 2007 1:38 PM
    Subject: Re: AW: [musketeermail] NORDO: fly long enough...

    Interesting story. When I first purchased my Sierra, I had a hydraulic
    pump that was going south. It caused intermittent orange transit lights
    that drove me nuts for awhile. Basically, the gear would start to fall
    a little and have to be picked up (transit) into the well.

    Best, RJF

    From: []
    Sent: Wednesday, June 06, 2007 1:03 PM
    To: rjf
    Subject: AW: [musketeermail] NORDO: fly long enough...


    I had something similar 5 weeks ago. The cause was different: one hydraulic line had a lot of microscopic holes in it. The holes were under the label "hydraulic". After all, there was a time when the reservoir was empty and the gear didn't show up. The same as with you. emergency extension, the front green didn't come up. I had four kids in the back, so I ordered for the big show (ambulance fire brigade). Very smooth landing, nothing happened.

    The final analysis showed, that the spring on the front gear was not strong enough to pull the final millimeter of the gear. Nevertheless it was locked.

    My final analysis: Think about changing all hydraulic lines (this time I just pulled the leaking one).(MC 704, 79, TT5400) And: Since some time the red transition light showed up every 30 minutes, something, that didn't happen before. Wolfgang (that is myself), may more attention, if you notice that the behavior of the aircraft changes, even if it is just minor.

    The good part of the story: the front gear didn't move in completely, because one hydraulic line FF was bend in such a way that the last inch was not possible. As we had to change the fluid anyway, we also changed this line and now the gear comes up a little more. It seems to be 3 knots worth.

    Wolfgang Nickel
    Senior Manager Competence Center IT-Security
    Steria Mummert Consulting AG
    Hans-Henny-Jahnn-Weg 29
    22085 Hamburg
    Tel.: (+49) 0251 / 98158-7540
    Handy: (+49) 0178 / 66 12 054

  6. #6

    nordo: fly long enough

    Not a Beech, but the same gear components. I put this up as a what if. My friend bought a Piper Arrow (stop boo-ing). Anyway, his gear were acting funny and constantly cycling. I jacked up the plane, and retracted the gear and they stayed firmly up after several minutes. I could hang my weight on each gear (checking for internal leakage). Then his gear failed. I pulled the motor off of the pump and found that there were no brushes left. Just kinda ate right into the armature.

    I should have sent the whole pump in at this point. I had the motor repaired and reinstalled. His gear started their cycling in flight and sometimes would come out of the plane. I resealed the emergency extension valve, then figured that the pump was leaking internally. The pump did need overhaul according to the accessory shop. Reinstalled and had him fly. Everything was much improved, but the gear would still cycle.

    I jacked the plane up and cycled the gear again, determined to find that leaky actuator that I didn't think existed. This time the motor did cycle every minute. Here was the cycling fix: some twit replaced the gear up pressure switch ( in charge of maintaining a certain hydraulic pressure to hold the gear up) with a model that was made to cycle at 400 lbs low. This means that the gear pump shut off at too low of a pressure, and the gear would sag down and offset the gear up switches causing the motor to cycle. One dash in the part number was off. I ordered the right switch and installed and now the Arrow has well behaved gear.

    The storal of the mory? Sometimes, after much neglect, it is a combination of problems that have to be sorted out one at a time. When buying a plane, be prepared to run across this stuff. Like Mike says, check the overhaul time of those components. If its not in the logs in the last few years or what ever hours limit the manufacturer suggest, put it on the to do list as money permits. Oh, and mechanics are human and do screw up.
    I chewed through my restraints for this?

  7. #7
    In anticipation of having to manually extend the gear in my Sierra for real, I've threaded a string through the top of the red manual gear extension handle. The string is tied into a loop, through which my hand will fit.

    After taking the handle out of it's side pocket, I slide my hand through the loop BEFORE trying to use it on the floor between my legs.

    The purpose of the shoe string is to keep me from dropping the handle onto the floor as I fumble around trying to extend the gear.

    Steve Glaviano
    Sierra N18930

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