|They say first flights should not be eventful. Well unfortunately mine was.
I'm sure there will be those who jump on the auto conversion vs
Lycontinental band wagon and I suppose that is not completely unwarranted.
These conversion are all in the detail and I missed one. Here's the story:
As you know I underwent a thorough FAA and DAR final inspection and felt
pretty good about things Friday night as I finished a fuel tank recal,
recal'd the water pressure gage and topped off the coolant and got the fuel
load the way I wanted. Everything ready to go for a Saturday morning flight.
The weather had been overcast all day Friday so I wasn't so sure about Sat.
I awoke on Sat. with sun streaming in the window so I was really stoked. I
pick up my flight advisor and off we went to Chino. It wasn't perfectly
clear but scattered at 3400 and some higher layer. When we got to the hangar
first I discovered that I left the master on and one battery on. So it was
pretty low. I put the charger on did a preflight and a few odds and ends.
Since one battery was fully charged and one had been on the charger for
about 1/2 and hour I figured the alternator would quickly charge the low
one. So I pushed it out and it fired right up. The plan was for a 1/2 hour
flight to check cooling on climb and in level flt up to 120kts and then
check out the landing speed handling qualities and land. Chino is near
Ontario International so there is an overlying class C airspace. I planned
to climb in several patterns up to the floor of the class C call them and
continue climbing to 5000. I taxied over to the long runway, at least a 1/2
mile from my hangar. The engine temps were good about 180. I did my altered
Subaru style "mag check" which consists of turning 2 of the 3 power sources
off to be sure that the engine runs well on any one of them. That was good.
I went thru my run up check list and took the runway. I put off the static
check until this point to avoid heating the engine any more than necessary.
Static was 3860 eng. or about 2100 at the prop. Not great but where I
expected. So off I went. I knew I was still over pitched on the prop so I
expected to have about a 1300 ft roll to 80 kts. I had marked the 2000'
point as an abort if I was not airborne. It rotated at about 75 and lifted
off right after just about the time I crossed the 2000' marker. Engine temps
were good around 200. I let it accel to 120kts and climbed at about 500 fpm.
The RPM had steadily climbed during the accel. It handled just as I expected
a Cozy to handle. A few pitch cycles as I got accustomed to the feel of it
but it was great. I had turned for downwind by now and climbed thru pattern
altitude. Somewhere in here the EFIS went black and rebooted. I had not had
that happen before but it came back up and the engine ran fine. Temps had
climbed to 220 during the climb but in level flight at 120kt they were back
down to 215 and the RPMs were up to 4400 (2378 prop). So I retracted the
gear to see if the cooling would improve and asked the tower if I could go
over to SoCal Approach and climb into the class C. They agreed and I switch
over. Socal was swamped and would not answer me. So I went back to tower and
told them I would go to the south and orbit there. They cleared me to the
south but restricted me to 2500'. So I decided to start checking out the
slower speeds and reduced the throttle a little. The engine went awfully
quite. I checked the fuel and the pumps, both fine. I thought I was getting
partial power but decided it was time to get on the ground. I neaded for the
airport. It looked like I could make it. It became clear now that I had no
power. I put the gear down and headed for the approach end of 26L, a 7000'
runway. It became clearer and clearer that I was going to be short. I cut
the pattern as close as I could. I touched down 15' short of the asphalt and
pretty slow. It hit pretty hard and the nose went down immediately. I was
not lined up with the runway and went diagonally across. That was not a
problem, with the nose gear retracted it stopped incredibly quick. The total
distance from touchdown to full stop was 290'!!! Well that may be a little
shorter than if just the nose was retracted, it turns out the left main
wheel departed on touchdown too. I was uninjured and amazingly calm. The
damage is the left main wheel and about 2" ground off the leg. The nose
strut and for sure the shock strut and who knows what else in the retract
mechanism? I think the main gear attach is ok but I need to inspect that.
The right lower winglet is damaged and there are some cracks in the paint
outboard of the outboard attach bolts that need to be inspected. The gear
leg/fuselage fairing is cracked too. By the time we got it back to the
hangar I wasn't ready to look any deeper.
What happened? While waiting for help to move the airplane back to the
hangar I noticed that the alternator C/B was popped. Now things start
falling in place. My best guess now is that the breaker was good at least
past the "mag check". Probably it popped after full power was on and the
alternator got up to full output. ON takeoff I had everything going: 2
electric fuel pumps, two engine fans, the ECU and its systems, the strobes,
radios, transponder..... probably approaching the 50 amp rating on the
breaker. Add on to that the amps the were being pumped back into the
batteries and yeap it should have popped. That may have been the reason for
the reboot of the EFIS. The EFIS is the system I use to monitor most
everything. It always gives warnings on startup so if it warned of low volts
or alternator output I did not notice. Probably from that point on I was on
batteries and they were probably not fully charged yet. It did not take long
before the voltage apparently dropped too low for the ECU to keep the engine
running. There was not enough juice left to crank the engine much less start
it even if I had pushed the C/B back in. So I thought I had that base
covered with 3 power sources and a system that monitors voltage and current.
But I had not added all the redundant systems up that are used on takeoff. I
also let that 50 amp breaker stay in there even though the alternator is
good for 65. Clearly, I need to rethink that system to get a more robust
power source to the engine systems. Sorry I don't have a more upbeat story
to tell but hey fiber glass heals much better than bones. They say any
landing you walk away from is a good one. I'll get it back up better than
|FIRST FLIGHT REPORT|