Author Topic: Looking for Help in Buying My Dream  (Read 19731 times)

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Offline allen

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Looking for Help in Buying My Dream
« Reply #15 on: June 04, 2008, 11:56:59 AM »
I have done some digging around and cannot find anything else on this accident. Anybody out there know if he made it? The reports had him calling in his own crash, but I cannot find any follow-up articles. This one hits a bit close to home. We bought our planes about the same time.

Hope your ok bud……
 :(
Allen
Long-Ez N701DS
1998 O-320 160HP
http://www.freewebs.com/wonderingwingnut

Offline alcornl

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Looking for Help in Buying My Dream
« Reply #16 on: June 05, 2008, 01:29:30 PM »
Looks like he made it.  NTSB report says non fatal.  Too bad.  Beautiful plane.  I almost bought it 3 years ago.

http://www.ntsb.gov/ntsb/brief.asp?ev_id=20080603X00775&key=1

Offline Joe Person

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looking to buy my dream
« Reply #17 on: June 05, 2008, 04:54:11 PM »
For what it's worth,

Having looked (qualitatively and quantitatively) in at the discrepant wing fitting installation on this airplane in detail, and analyzed (engineering structural/strength analysis) same, you were lucky in avoiding this airplane.  The wing fittings had very, very good potential for not allowing the airplane to carry design 'g' load, and coupled with the epoxy-rich sparcap layups (resulting in the wing fitting plates common to the centersection spar being spaced at least 1/32 inch farther apart than the .375 inch per plans), this was a structural failure waiting to happen.  Failure could have occurred as low as 2.8 g's, and this assumes that the centersection sparcap layups were rendered correctly (so as to react approximately 40,000 psi of stress, which they probably could not on account of epoxy richness).

Two of us, both with proper engineering credentials (myself, I developed airframe repair and modification engineering for 16+ years where I work), came to the above conclusion, and passed this on repeatedly to the most-recent owner, to no avail.  In the end, "better opinions" prevailed.  The loss of this airplane could have been worse if it had been the incorrect wing fitting installation that caused the crash.  At a foot or two of altitude, it could have been bad.  At any appreciable altitude (10 feet and more???) - fatal.

In the exact words of an extremely-esteemed "former RAF employee", when this configuration was bounced off of him, "I wouldn't fly it, would you?"

It will be intersting to see the NTSB final report on this one.

Just because it is a pretty airplane, that does not meant the really important elements (airframe/strucures, flight controls, fuel system, etc.) are also up-to-par.

As I have stated before, it is paramount for buyers of plans-built airplanes to enlist the help of an experienced/qualified BUILDER/operator of the design in question, in order to have a good examination and assesment of the intended purchase.  Each plans-built airplane is unique, and if it does not "conform" to the basic requirements of the plans, one needs to know how/why that is so, and what potential (or definitive) effect the deviation has.

My 2 bits,

-Joe Person
EAA Tech Counselor 4418
VariEze N79JN
Bothell, WA  (KPAE)
Joe Person
VariEze N79JN
Cozy #879 Under Construction
EAA Tech Counselor 4418
Bothell, WA (KPAE)

Offline Tom

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Re: looking to buy my dream
« Reply #18 on: June 06, 2008, 06:35:06 AM »
Quote from: McGyver

 
 
Just because it is a pretty airplane, that does not meant the really important elements (airframe/strucures, flight controls, fuel system, etc.) are also up-to-par.

 


I couldnt have said it better myself

Any updates on his condition?

-Tom

Offline Greg in Tulsa

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Looking for Help in Buying My Dream
« Reply #19 on: June 06, 2008, 07:40:15 PM »
According to reports, he spent less than two days in the hospital with his most serious injury being a broken leg. Numerous reports can be obtained by googling "westendorf olathe". The best one I found is:[/url]http://www.nbcactionnews.com/mostpopular/story.aspx?content_id=5811397f-64f8-40e6-b02e-f6e14081e786


Greg in Tulsa

Offline mikeydidit98

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Re: Looking for Help in Buying My Dream
« Reply #20 on: June 22, 2008, 05:46:29 PM »
This is Mike Westendorf.  Thank you for your concern and thoughts.  I am recovering well from the injuries to my right knee, leg and foot.  The pcl (posterior crutiate ligament) tore a chunk of cartilage away from the knee, which was re-located back into place and is holding so far in place.  The tip of the tibia had a couple pieces break off but is structurally sound as far as knee function and integrity.  The broken bones in the foot are healing.  I am out of the full leg cast now and in a 45 degree movement full leg brace.  I should be back racing my dirt bikes by October/November timeframe.

By the way - the wings were fine on this bird.  Contrary to Joe's opinion, it held up under a 4g continuous load test.

Thanks to the help of the wonderful people of western Kansas (over 300 of them involved in helping to find me) and the organizational skills and dedication of Lawrence Ruff (the chief of the local fire department there), I survived the crash.  During an emergency landing caused by an in-flight electrical fire, I hooked a wing on a fence post doing approximately 80mph, flipped her 3 times and came to rest on my side.  The nose cone came off, but the rest of the tub and the head rest stayed intact, saving me.  I then survived waiting 10 1/2 hrs in 30-40 degree temps, rain and wind in excess of 30mph.  The "hello, is anyone there?" from the first person to find me was one of the best sounds I have ever heard.

I will be back in a canard when I can again afford to buy one... maybe another 10 years.

Thanks again.

Regards,

Mike Westendorf


You appreciate most the things for which you have had to work.

Offline Dave in Eugene

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Re: Looking for Help in Buying My Dream
« Reply #21 on: June 22, 2008, 08:30:30 PM »
Mike,

Glad you made it though it.

What caused the fire?

What can we learn?

Dave
408 EZ Long EZ 0235-L2C / Great American 62X62 / IFR / GU canard

Offline Drew

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Re: Looking for Help in Buying My Dream
« Reply #22 on: June 23, 2008, 05:41:32 PM »
Mike,
I am glad you are still with us.  Were you able to shut the electrical system down?  And if so, did the fire quit when it was shut down---or continue to burn?

Regards---and get better soon!
Drew Swenson
Cozy N171ML

Offline Joe Person

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Re: Looking for Help in Buying My Dream
« Reply #23 on: June 25, 2008, 11:54:30 AM »
Nevil Shute wrote a great novel about this kind of scenario, called, “No Highway” (1948).  If you are not interested in reading the book, a reasonable movie was made a few years later (“No Highway in the Sky”).  Gives a good perspective about seemingly trivial little things that aircraft engineers fret about, as written by an aeronautical engineer turned novelist.

I stand by my conclusion regarding the wing fittings on this late VariEze.  Moreso, I’m glad you got out alive, Mike, and that it was not a failure of the wing attach structure that caused the accident.

For what it is worth, my “opinion” about the wing fitting configuration on this airplane was, in detail:

1.   My initial engineering assessment, back in 2005, for this airplane, based on direct airframe repair/modification engineering design experience (big aluminum beasties, and yes, believe it or not, the same engineering principles, analysis, material characteristics, etc., that apply to the big ones also apply to the little ones…)
2.   On-site detailed examination & measurement of the wing fittings by one of the most-respected VariEze builder/drivers in the Realm (also happens to be an exceptional engineer). 
3.   Actual, formal (not just thumbnail) engineering analyses (has to be done under the requirements of evaluating what is referred to as Statically Indeterminate structure), evaluating to the absolute worst-case scenario (worst-case, based on epoxy-rich sparcaps, aft cg loading at 1200 pound weight because I know that’s where most VariEzes end up, when loaded full…), etc.
4.   Peer review/independent analysis of the above by two veteran airframe structures/stress analysts.  I always seek qualified Second Opinions when dealing with such issues, as this is the way we solve such problems in my profession.
5.   Assessment of this condition by the designer’s Right Hand Man, when presented with the configuration and dimensions of the wing fittings (direct quotes copied and pasted out of the email I received back on this issue):

      "Ooohh, that's not good".

   and:

      "I wouldn't fly it like that - would you?".


I also considered having this looked at by a DAR (Designated Airworthiness Representative) I work with, but knew his final assessment of whether or not this configuration constituted Condition for Safe Operation would only weaken the above positions that much more…

Regarding the substantiation of 4 g’s continuous loading, how much above 4 g’s would this structure take (assuming that it was truly 4 g’s of flight loading, at aft cg, at the highest weight the airplane would ever be operated at)?  Unknown, and only truly “knowable” under formal, documented load testing (which would have to allow for measurements of yielding/deformation in the outer .125 plates, in the outer taper pin bores, etc., among other things).  Long and short of it is, the fitting installation/geometry did not meet the structural design requirements, and could not be guaranteed to provide the necessary structural performance over the life of the airplane. 

What if it took 10 more repetitions at x.x (pick a number here…) g’s before more bore yielding in the outer upper plate shifted the load transfer primarily from the outer plate to the induction of local bending moment in the upper composite spar cap due to primary load transfer being mostly/wholly reacted by the inner upper .125 plate???  The taper pin bore in one outer upper .125 plate had already been yielded at least once before, possibly twice, as evidenced by visible material upset/plastic deformation on the 2024-T3 alloy.  This is the sort of circumstance that was quantitatively analyzed (among others).

All told, the players in 1 – 4, above collectively had 10 – 15 some man-hours invested in all of this effort.  No.  It was not just a case of my “opinion”.  The overall situation honestly scared the hell out of me, and weighed heavily on my mind.  Engineering ethics, dontchaknow...

Given the same set of circumstances again, in the future, I would maintain the same position. 
Joe Person
VariEze N79JN
Cozy #879 Under Construction
EAA Tech Counselor 4418
Bothell, WA (KPAE)

Offline Tom

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Re: Looking for Help in Buying My Dream
« Reply #24 on: June 26, 2008, 12:22:01 PM »
Joe,

I havent done any analysis on the VE wing attach fittings/center section spar, but how conservative do you think Burts' limit load of 5Gs is? (this is of course assuming proper build and workmanship)


I routinely pull 5gs in my plane, and the thought of structural failure has never even remotely entered my mind. (for the record, at each annual, I inspect all aluminum structure each year for signs of damage and or corrosion)


Tom

Offline Joe Person

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Re: Looking for Help in Buying My Dream
« Reply #25 on: June 26, 2008, 01:04:05 PM »
Tom,

Assuming all is correct with the wing attach (glass structure correct, taper pin fits correct - lapped into the bores, wing fittings & dimensions all per-plans, etc.), the VariEze wing fittings begin to give up the ghost at 14 - 16 g's.  This reflects failure of the .125 2024-T3 plates in the shearout mode (i.e. the taper pins tear "chunks" out of the lower .125 plates that are about the same width as the pins.  Under such a failure mode, the mating WA-3 wing tongue will display yielded (distorted) material, as tensile yield in 2024-T3 material is 2/3rds of tensile ultimate capability.  Ever wonder why "classic" aluminum GA airframe design puts a 1.5 factor from limit load to ultimate load?  Comes from this ratio, as 2024-T3 is the predominant alloy for light airplane construction when aluminum alloys are used.

In overload conditions, with loadings not imparted by flight loading, sparcap failure can occur before the fittings go.  I have examined in detail 3 different VariEzes that made forced landings, and tensile failure of the lower sparcaps (wing, or centersection spar) was present on each one.  Overload in a crash imparts different loadings (obviously) than flight loads.

The overall flight structures (wings, canard, winglets) are reasonably over-designed.  The wings are actually designed (structurally) to be stiff enough to ensure flutter is not a problem within the flight envelope (and then some), for example.

I did a very detailed structural analysis of the airframe about 20 years ago, out of mere curiosity, before I ever began building.  The airplane is very robust, but, there are some areas where the configuration is rather unforgiving of errors, just like any other airframe structure where weight is always a concern. 

Things like wing fittings and canard lift tabs can be "over-designed", strength-wise, because they are a very small fraction of the airplane's weight.  On a VariEze, at 1050 pounds, at forward CG, the lift tabs are good to close to 30 g's, and the F-22 bulkhead will fail before that (in flight-type loading in an overload condition).  But again, even such over-design will not tolerate all errors.

Hope this helps.

Best regards,
Joe Person
VariEze N79JN
Cozy #879 Under Construction
EAA Tech Counselor 4418
Bothell, WA (KPAE)

Offline ezeguy440ez

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Re: Looking for Help in Buying My Dream
« Reply #26 on: June 26, 2008, 03:47:56 PM »
Joe
 Wasnt the Veri Ez down rated to 2.5 g limits after Andreas Christeau found corrosion in his wing fittings and after he was doing a steady regiment of airobatic manuvers. I believe this was back in 04. Aside from that Mike never had a wing structural failure. He had an electrical fire. Mike I hope you get another plane. I have a really rough project if your interested it has about 700 flight hours on it. its really rough. I just thought Id offer I will eventually get around to fixing it up.
Joe
 Did you have a recent incident with your plane in seattle. Or was that just a rumor?

David Hanson
N440ez Veri ez
N220ez Veri Ez
N440DH SQ 2000   

Offline Joe Person

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Re: Looking for Help in Buying My Dream
« Reply #27 on: June 26, 2008, 09:08:16 PM »
Hi David,

Long time no talkee.

Yes, Burt put out the word on the g limit reduction after Andreas Christou's finding.  In the forensics of that airplane, the sparcaps were layed up rich (you can see the swelled composite structure immediately inboard of the inboard edge of the wing fitting), and when the outer fitting plate was pressed in place, it "hydraulicked" out the excess epoxy inboard, swelling and distorting the sparcap layup.  I believe the problem with Mike's VariEze was that the sparcaps were also layed up with excess epoxy, but the outer fitting plates were not squeezed into place.  This resulted in at least a .030 inch or more extra gap.  Not very good structurally, based on the design requirements of the wing fittings. 

Burt put out this limitation and was being rightfully conservative.  Andreas's airplane, and (in multiple qualified people's judgement) Mike's airplane, are both examples of why Burt did this.  Unless you build the airplane yourself, you really have no way of ascertaining the quality of some of the most critical structure and structural interfaces in the airframe.  As a buyer, you rely on the skill (or ham-fistedness...) of the builder in ensuring your structures are safe.  In one of the last Canard Pushers, Burt explicitly gives his opinion that these airplanes should not be sold.  Again, rightfully conservative, having evaluated numerous accidents (and at least 3 in-flight structural failures of VariEzes) over the past several decades.

I have placarded my own Eze at 1200 pounds, and +5 -2 gs (at 1110 pounds), and +3.8 and - 1.5 at the 1200.  I know exactly how all my primary structure was built, and know that it is of the best quality I could have made it.  In Andreas's airplane, one would have never known about the poor workmanship in the spars.  On Mike's airplane, the discrepancy was readily apparent.  Burt states at least once in the CPs:  "Your best workmanship is barely adequate", or words to that effect.  Yup.  The VariEze is pretty tolerant of less-than-good workmanship, with overdesign, but everything has its limits.

No.  Mike's airplane (fortunately) did not suffer wing failure, but as I have exasperatingly stated, had very high potential for one, and it would very likely be one that "snuck up" on the pilot.  The failure mode would have most-likely been cumulative material distortion in the outer upper wing fitting plates at the taper pin bore edges.  Eventually, the inner plate would take on more of the flight loads than the outer plate would.  Such unbalanced load distribution would impart a bending moment in the upper spar caps (centersection).  Over time, such actions had very high potential to end up causing the inner plate to take the vast majority of the flight loads.  There is a point where the resultant bending moment in the sparcap would cause the allowable stress level in the sparcap section to be exceeded.  The sparcap was already compromised, structurally, by being epoxy-rich.  Excess epoxy in a glass structure that reacts compressive loading is uglier than in structure that is in tension.

If Andreas had flown his airplane without finding the structural degradation it had, with only a single inner upper plate reacting flight loads, it would have been ugly-bad evetually  I believe Andreas did frequent acro in his airplane.  Lucky man.  Such a structural configuration is exactly the concern I had for Mike's airplane, over the long-term.

As for the recent VariEze crash up this way, no.  Not me.  I got that out of my system 10 years ago (knock on wood - I have firsthand knowledge of how a hidden, latent failure mode in a system can ruin your day, which is why I can be pretty damn adamant about squwaking about failure modes I can recognize given my canard and "day job" experience).  I helped recover the airplane from the field late in the afternoon with several other good souls, on the day of the crash.  Pilot OK (cuts, bruises, etc.) after an overnight stay in the hospital.  Airframe was totaled.  Airplane was on its second test flight.  Suffice to say, I'll let the NTSB report speak to this one. 

One thing I hope all buyers of these airplanes do is at least go read ALL of the Canard Pusher Newsletters.  Become familiar with the evolution of the VariEze and the Long-EZ (Ditto for Nat's Cozy newsletters for the Cozys), and study up on the accidents and the failure modes that caused them.  Going back to 1982 with my beginning in the Rutan canard world, I still pull the CPs once in a while and refresh.

Best regards,
Joe Person
VariEze N79JN
Cozy #879 Under Construction
EAA Tech Counselor 4418
Bothell, WA (KPAE)

Offline Tom

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Re: Looking for Help in Buying My Dream
« Reply #28 on: July 10, 2008, 02:14:05 PM »
Hi Joe,

Its rather interesting that in the midst of all the speak of wingspar problems,  I might have my own issues as well!

On my last flight, my left hand exhaust failed (right in the middle of the carb heat box) anyway the long and short is it appears the back of the left side spar carry through may have sustained some heat damage (kind of just to the right or the aileron bellcrank).

Anyway Ive looked all over for information regarding an issue such as this but so far no joy. There is no damage to the exterior skin but from the looks of the shear web as mentioned earlier, high heat might have been encountered.

Any suggestions?

Tom

Offline Tom

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Re: Looking for Help in Buying My Dream
« Reply #29 on: July 10, 2008, 02:20:51 PM »
On a lighter note,

Check of the SWEET Long that I have the fortune of ferrying this weekend!   

I think this plane exists in MS flight sim 2004!