Conventional wisdom says that all planes gain weight as they age. This applies to later model variants, as well as to specific airplanes. My Sierra defied that wisdom following my Y2000 avionics upgrade, as the weighing showed it being 20 pounds lighter than when it left the factory. That was the result of new avionics, no extraneous cables and antennas left behind, a lightweight starter, and a few other little things. Here are some thoughts, in no particular order:

Wet insulation could be a factor, but I doubt it in the case of most of our planes. Most of our skin blankets are bonded honeycomb stiffeners. There is fiberglass behind the side panels (and often the headliner). If found wet during an inspection, it should long ago have had the leaks fixed and the junk replaced.

If the plane has ever been reupholstered, far too often no thought or effort is given to the weight of the materials and methods being used. It isn't uncommon to find that the foam and covering on a seat weighs more than the seat itself. There is a very wide range of weights in the materials available, including insulation foams.

If new floorboards were ever made, and it was done by the owner, it is close to certain that too-heavy plywood was used. It is very easy to add 20 to 40 pounds by using the wrong material, in the effort to save money.

Our planes are fairly small, when it comes to gaining weight from dirt and debris, but the nooks and crannies should certainly be cleaned whenever exposed.

Tires can matter. When different sizes are an option, and circumstances allow, the smallest size that will meet the load requirements will often weigh a lot less than the largest size. It can often create less in-flight drag as well.

In the case in point, I would double-check to make sure the fuel load was properly accounted for. It is an easily-made mistake to miscalculate the useful load, if the plane was weighed with full tanks.

----- Original Message -----
From: Martin Vanover
To: ke4oh
Cc: Musketeer Group
Sent: Friday, August 26, 2005 6:18 PM
Subject: Re: [musketeermail] Re: Skipper (un)useful load


You'd be supprised how heavy an airplane gets as it ages. Some of the weight can be atributed to dirt, debris and paint accumulation. But we have found that moisture is usually the biggest culprit. It seems the insulation wicks moisture through covering via the stitching. It might not be a big problem on little airplanes, I don't know if Beech's have insulation blankets around the cabin, but on the heavys it can be thousands of pounds. I think the weight issue has been addressed in the BAC archives (I dunno 'cause I am a member to be waiting for an airplane to pass by). I am sure Mike or Bob will be able to give more insight on this, but you might check for soggy interior stuff.

Also, you didn't use the correct method to determine your empty weight. Either drain the fuel tanks, or fill 'em up and deduct the weight of the useable fuel. Draining is the prefered way.

Martin Vanover A&P
Phoenix, Az.

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