Tuesday, June 09, 2009

This post no good without pics

Flew again last Friday 29th May. Took a workmate Brett along for the ride. Apologies for the tardiness of this post, but I was expecting to get some photos from my passenger to post, who has since told me the battery in his camera died and so he can't yet retrieve the images from it. Brett's father was a flight engineer for QANTAS for many years, and grew up near the northern beaches of Sydney, where a great many QANTAS flight crew seem to reside, so I took a route I've flown a few times before that goes as close to Sydney Harbour whilst remaining outside controlled airspace.

The weather had been poor for several weeks leading up to the flight, the confluence of low and high pressure systems off the coast brought day after day of heavy rain, flooding and low cloud. The day of the flight, though, was nice and clear, some cloud but not enough to effect the flight. The aircraft, SFA, had not been flown since the 17th, and a fuel drain revealed it had soaked up a fair bit of water. I had never seen quite so much water in a fuel tank, I must have rocked and drained the tanks a dozen times each before they came up clear of water.

Startup, taxi out, extended run up on both tanks to make sure they weren't going to quit with water contamination after takeoff and out to the runway. A few months earlier a Chieftain had run off the end of the runway after a failed aborted takeoff, the report blaming water contamination for the loss of engine power.

North via the VFR lane to Hornsby, then east to the coast north of Long Reef, one orbit over the beach, but clearly too cold for naked sunbathers, then north to Barrenjoey Head lighthouse, west to Brooklyn Bridge, then south back the VFR return lane to Bankstown. Encountered a couple of minor showers along the way back, prompting my passenger to ask what I used to keep the windscreen clear of water.

'Airspeed,' I replied.

Into the circuit at Bankstown, too close behind another Archer in front prompted a 'waggle your wings SFA' request so the tower could differentiate us, then having to go around. I thought we had sufficient spacing, but the tower controllers were handing over, I think the new controller was erring on the side of caution until he had a handle on the circuit traffic.

Around we go again, on short final my passenger started asking questions about the layout of the field, which I tried to answer, but probably shouldn't have. My fault for not briefing him to stay quiet during our approach and landing.

A nice, fun flight, and easily done within the 1.5 hour booking we had.


At 1:15 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Brave man Chris but maybe you've done this before. I have had water in the tanks once and decided it was up to the A&P to fix the problem. I've had sediment and mixed fuel at different times too so I always have a look.

At 4:15 pm, Blogger Chris said...

Wilko - I've had a good think about it, and if I was in the same situation again, I would defer to a LAME.

The amount of water I drained was less than a half a cup either side. I decided that if I couldn't get a good drain out of both tanks I (obviously) wouldn't go. I also decided that if the engine spluttered at all during the taxi I wouldn't go, and to do an extended run up on both tanks.

But on balance I reckon you're right - it would have been smarter and safer to take a different aircraft and get the tanks drained.

At 2:14 pm, Blogger Wilko said...

It's admirable you checked the fuel and drained the water. I've seen many who ignore that task.

Another thought-why wouldn't the FBO replace the cap gaskets? Seems like an easy fix.

At 2:52 pm, Blogger Chris said...

That's a good question. Maybe if I deferred to maintenance more often it would get fixed.


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