Our Citation CJ3 Trip to the Iditarod Race in Alaska Took an Interesting Detour

March 2018

My friend and I were flying his Cessna Citation CJ3 to Hillsboro Airport in Oregon (KHIO)  from Lincoln Nebraska (KLNK) on our way to Alaska to watch the Iditarod Race . I’ve been flying this particular CJ3 for six years, in fact it was my first flight in the plane that was the impetus to obtain my CE-525S type rating . The CJ3 had just back in the air after the Rockwell Collins Pro Line Fusion avionics upgrade was completed at Duncan Aviation in Lincoln .  I’ve been flying and teaching the Pro Line Fusion system since the first installation.  The multiple flight legs to Alaska would provide a great opportunity to train my friend on a variety of techniques.

Before departing Lincoln I loaded the flight plans, including the second leg (Alternate Flight Plan) from KHIO to Anchorage (KPANC) using the new ARINCDirect app through the wireless connectivity of the IMS-3500 module, which was recently certified for the CJ3.  I’ll write another article on that capability soon!

Doing Fusion ground checks before leaving the hangar
Doing Fusion ground checks before leaving the hangar
Loading the second flight plan - KHIO PANC - through the ARINC Direct app.
Loading the second flight plan – KHIO PANC – through the ARINC Direct app.

On Fusion you can view the Secondary, or Alternate, flight plan on the map screens of the MFD or the PFDs.  This makes for a great method of verifying your next flights, or just to check the weather along the route.

Viewing the Alternative Flight Plan KHIO-PANC before departing KLNK
Viewing the Alternative Flight Plan KHIO-PANC before departing KLNK

Just when we were enjoying the scenery

We departed Lincoln and were cleared quickly to FL430 and were discussing different aspects of the new avionics system.

Departing Lincoln Nebraska
Departing Lincoln Nebraska

We were cruising west at FL430 flying over Idaho and we noticed the oil pressure on the right engine was lower than the left.  All values had been in the green range during our flights so we had not paid a lot of attention to specific values prior to recording the values in our flight log.  Our engine parameters usually match within a very close range, so it was unusual to observe a significant gap between the two engines. All other engine parameters matched as expected. 

CJ3 Low Oil Pressure Right Engine - Loading HIO Approach
CJ3 Low Oil Pressure Right Engine – Loading HIO Approach

We continued our flight evaluating what may be the cause of the discrepancy.  Our diagnostic steps started with any recent work on the plane.  The recent Fusion upgrade and additional work we had completed should not have involved the oil system.  We had previously experience a split in the oil pressure and completed a Williams International Service Bulletin for an oil check valve replacement,  We thought it might be related to that replacement, however everything had been stable after that repair for some time.  Each engine is equipped with two oil pressure sensors, one is a pressure switch and the other a transducer.  The pressure switch is set at a particular trigger value, 23 PSI for the CJ3.  The transducer measures actual oil pressure when then displays as a digital value on the avionics.

I frequently fly with my Garmin Explorer Iridium satellite communicator.  It is a great device, and I have been using it, and the previous version by DeLorme, for 5 years including on my previous trip to Europe this past Fall.  It allows me to send messages, track our progress, and communicate in case of an emergency.  This was a great opportunity to use it again.

Near the scenic Salmon River  I sent a message using the Explorer to a good friend, Troy Lewis, who works at Williams International, the manufacturer of our engines.  Troy is a colleague of ours on the NBAA Cessna Citation Technical Advisory Committee and also provides customer support for Williams.  The pressure had now decreased to 47 PSI, which wasn’t an immediate concern to Troy but the trend is an issue.   After HIO we would be heading up the British Columbia and Alaska coastlines to Anchorage (PANC) with very few options along the way.  We can fly long distances with one engine, if necessary, however it isn’t good for the engine and our range decreases on one engine since we would have to fly at a lower altitude.  Neither result was good.

As we approached Oregon and our descent profile into the Portland area, the oil pressure on the right engine then started to fluctuate, something we have never seen in this plane.  It would decrease a few PSI, then rise again, however the values still didn’t match the left engine. The oil pressure then started decreasing into the 40-45 PSI range, which isn’t a good sign.  The minimum oil pressure in flight for the CJ3 is 45 PSI with an N2 above 80%.  In typical cruise, our N2 is well above that number.  Below 80% N2 the minimum is 35 PSI.  The oil levels were perfect before flight, and the oil temperatures were exactly the same on both engines.  Usually, but not always, you will see an increase in oil temperature if the oil pressure drops.

We were at FL430 (43,000 ft) and started to discuss our options and agreed that if the pressure decreased any more we would shut down the right engine.  Troy suggested retarding the right engine and see if the pressure increase, which it didn’t.  This helped us eliminate the check valve as the cause.  Our issue appeared to be caused by a defective oil pressure transducer, or something worse – an actual oil leak or pump failure. 

I’ve had experience a low oil pressure indication earlier in a Piper Meridian (PT6-42A) at FL270 with my wife Jane on a flight to my 40th high school reunion in Denver, and at that time thought it might be a recurring oil transducer indicating issue  we had which was bothersome but not critical.  We continued to happily cruise in the Flight Levels towards Denver and friends. A few minutes later  I saw oil streaming over the windshield and did an emergency descent into Cortez CO.  I thought it wasn’t a good idea to assume this indication was benign this time 🙂

We were landing in the Portland area and I sent Troy a message to determine Williams’ nearest support team.  They stated that Flightcraft at Portland International Airport (KPDX) was a support center.  Troy called their staff and texted me, not only confirmation they could help, but also which hangar door to use and who would meet us upon landing!  Obviously PDX was now in our new plans.  I had flown into PDX many times, when I lived in Oregon and Flightcraft had always provided excellent service.  We checked the limitations sections of the AFM and both agreed if the oil pressure dropped any further and approached the limitation minimum we would shutdown the engine.

Emergency Equipment - iPad and Garmin Explorer - don't leave home without it!
Emergency Equipment – iPad and Garmin Explorer – don’t leave home without it!

Over eastern Oregon we were now heading to PDX and the pressure started to rise a little then stabilized.  We made the decision that we would shut down the engine at 34 PSI.  I practice engine shutdowns both in flight and in simulators on a recurring basis.  Practicing these procedures can actually be a fun and challenging experience; learning the aircraft systems and how to react to abnormal conditions.  Well at least, I enjoy the challenge!  A few minutes later just east of Mt. Hood, the oil pressure indication dropped to 34 PSI.

Mike was the pilot flying on this leg and went through the process of securing the engine, using the Emergency/Abnormal Checklist.  It is relatively simple process, confirm the affected engine (you don’t want to shut down the good one!), pull throttle to idle, then cutoff.  Secure the generator on the affected engine.  You apply additional rudder trim to counteract the asymmetric power since we are now flying on one engine.   The CJ3 provides ‘rudder bias’ which senses a failed engine and augments our manual rudder adjustment to help maintain coordinated flight.  As we descended we monitored the respective fuel levels and used the fuel transfer system to balance our fuel.  The CJ3 has a 200 pound fuel imbalance limit, with 600 possible in emergency situations.

 

I advised Seattle Center Air Traffic Control we had completed a precautionary engine shutdown and requested a diversion to PDX with one engine inoperative.  At this point,   Mike and I didn’t consider this an emergency since everything else was operating well, so an emergency wasn’t declared, only expedited handling requested.  If we had felt that any significant delay would have affected our safety, or we were in immediate need of a landing, then an emergency declaration would have been appropriate for us.  I have declared an emergency in other situations and it can be the best course of action and pilots should never avoid that decision that when they are in immediate need of assistance.

Descend Via but then….

As we were descending via the HHOOD4 Arrival, we were instructed to change to Portland Approach Control.  We were using COM2, controlled by the second CCP (Cursor Control Panel) for that radio, while the first CCP controlled COM1 where we monitored Emergency (121.5) which was our standard.  I was managing the Flight Management System (FMS) as well as communications.  I switched frequencies, or at least I thought I did, and the second CCP then failed!

CJ3 - Right Engine Shutdown - MFD and PFD FMS
CJ3 – Right Engine Shutdown – MFD and PFD FMS

Now we are descending at 260-270 KIAS, 2000FPM, with a ground speed in excess of 330 KTAS.  Approach Control expected us on the new frequency, which we had not activated due to the failed CCP.  Our standard procedure of monitoring 121.5 on COM1 was useful, since they contacted us on that radio and we used the Quik Tune feature of Fusion to change to the appropriate frequency.  Of course, you don’t expect multiple failures at the same time however it does make it more interesting.

CJ3 - Right Engine Shutdown - MFD and PFD
CJ3 – Right Engine Shutdown – MFD and PFD – on the HHOOD4 arrival

Portland Approach was very helpful, especially when I requested no delays if possible.  The plane was flying well, however it doesn’t hurt to ask for a bit of assistance.  The right engine was shut down and the less time you can have an engine spinning in the wind without oil pressure, the less likely you will encounter other issues.  We reviewed the Single-Engine Approach Checklist to ensure we didn’t miss any items.  While we knew the plane well, the use of checklists is a good standard protocol – especially when you have an abnormal event.

CJ3 Emergency Checklist - Single Engine Approach
CJ3 Emergency Checklist – Single Engine Approach

We were cleared for the ILS  RWY 10L by vectors to final.  We were now VFR below the clouds and had a great view of the Columbia River, something I always enjoyed when we lived in Oregon.

CJ3 - On Single Engine Approach - ILS RWY 10L KPDX
CJ3 – On Single Engine Approach – ILS RWY 10L KPDX
Columbia River View on FInal for RWY 10L KPDX
Columbia River View on FInal for RWY 10L KPDX

Our approach speed was a little high on final for the ILS 10L  which we adjusted on the glide path.  The touchdown by Mike was perfect and we then taxied to the west side of the Flightcraft maintenance hangar that was opening – just as Troy informed us!

The Welcoming Committee was there when we landed, not only the Flightcraft team but also the Portland Airport Fire Department – just in case.

Welcoming Committee at KPDX
Welcoming Committee at KPDX

Flightcraft – Help to the Rescue

It was now approaching 1530 and our goal of reaching Anchorage that evening was no longer attainable.  The technical team at Flightcraft was truly amazing.  Within 30 minutes of landing, the had the cowlings off our engines, had hooked up test equipment and isolated the problem – the oil pressure transducer.  The corrosion didn’t appear to be severe, however in testing we believe it extended beyond what was visible to us.  They even let me help, which probably delayed them a little bit 🙂

Testing the oil transducer
Testing the oil transducer

 

Corrosion on Oil Transducer Pins
Corrosion on Oil Transducer Pins – not the discoloration on the pins and the base of the connection.

It was now 1615.  We had isolated the problem and now needed a replacement – on Friday evening no less, and then required installation.  Paul, one of the supervisors at Flightcraft worked quickly and found a part at the Textron Sacramento Service Center.  With everybody working hard to help us, we were able to get an airline counter-to-counter replacement on the way to PDX.

We decided to enjoy Portland, or at least the airport area, and went to dinner at Salty’s on the same river we just flew over – the Columbia.  If you find yourself in Portland, it is a great restaurant with an enjoyable jazz group on Friday evenings, and you can watch planes land at PDX!  We also met up with friends  who needed a ride to Alaska, so it worked out for everyone.

 

Salty's on the Columbia
Salty’s on the Columbia

At 10 pm the new part arrived from Textron and Scot Fitch, the A&P mechanic who stayed late to help along with a colleague, called to let me know the part had arrived.  Mike and I went to the hangar to help and test run the engines.  After a little additional tweaking, we had proper oil pressure!  Scot and his assistant did an amazing job getting our bird back in service.

The next morning we were off to Anchorage and the Iditarod, maybe 15 hours late, but that was inconsequential and we were grateful for the excellent support by Williams, ATC, Textron, and Flightcraft!  Besides it allowed us to view the spectacular British Columbia and Alaska coasts in daylight!   More details on the remaining trip and the Iditarod soon…..

Near Vancouver island BC
Near Vancouver island BC
The Turbine Otter Ready to Rock!
The Turbine Otter Ready to Rock!

 

 

Flying the first Citation CJ3 with Rockwell Collins Pro Line Fusion

MFD Satellite Weather - Winds Aloft, NEXRAD.
CJ3 Fusion Line Up and Wait
CJ3 Fusion Line Up and Wait

Pro Line Fusion Citation CJ3 First Flight

A State-of-the-Art Avionics Upgrade

Spring/Summer 2017

copyright 2017,2018 Personal Wings, Inc.

NOTE:  This article is a condensed version of my full-length CJ3 Fusion training documentation.  Pro Line Fusion training is available from Personal Wings,  contact Rich Pickett for more information – Rich@PersonalWings.com

Update Log:

  • April 2018 – Read my Twin & Turbine article in the March 2018 issue on flying Fusion in the CJ3!  The plane on the cover, and in the article, is the primary one I fly!
  • Twin and Turbine - March 2018 issue - with Rich's CJ3 Fusion article
    Twin and Turbine – March 2018 issue – with Rich’s CJ3 Fusion article
  • August 7, 2017 – new content and videos on flight planning, navigation, and weather.

Note:  Due to the size of the photos, their resolution in the blog is scaled down.  To view higher resolution images, most photos link to higher res with a click.  This is a very long blog!  I tried to keep it short, however Pro Line Fusion is a very capable avionics suite and even at this length, I only barely touch the surface!

I had been looking forward to flying the CJ3 with Rockwell Collins’ new Pro Line Fusion avionics systems since the upgrade program was conceptualized 2 years ago. The CJ3 jets were originally outfitted with the Pro Line 21 avionics suite which is a extremely capable system, but as with all technology, didn’t match the full capabilities of newer aircraft avionics. Cessna has been delivering the CJ3+ with Garmin 3000 avionics since 2015 which offers the latest Garmin technology, but until Fusion was announced there were no advanced system upgrades for the CJ3, other than WAAS and other enhancements to the Pro Line 21. The Garmin 3000 is a great system, offering touch controllers, high resolution displays, and other enhancements over previous Garmin systems such as the G1000, which in itself was a transformative change when released.

Rockwell has been using the Fusion system in other platforms for a short time, and recently had installed them in the venerable Beechcraft King Air, which now offers them as a factory installed system. It was this system that Rockwell elected to customize for the Citation CJ3.

The Pro Line Fusion is unique in many ways, including the incorporation of touch screen technology in the PFD (Primary Flight Display) – a first for the aviation industry. While others have utilized touch controllers (G3000) or touch sensitive navigation displays (Garmin GTN series) this was a bold move by Rockwell to explore this technology.

I attended a brief system familiarization course at Textron’s Tru Simulation and Training Proflight center in a King Air 250 FTD (Flight Training Device). While helpful for basic familiarization,  nothing is like flying and teaching in the same aircraft model

The upgrade program engineering is extensive, and took over a year for Rockwell Collins and Duncan Aviation to design, install, fine-tune, fly, and obtain FAA approval for this system. A CJ3 owner graciously gave up use of his airplane for a year, so it could be used as a test bed. On Friday April 21, 2017, the FAA granted the approval STC to Rockwell Collins for the CJ3. It was only a few months later than anticipated, however it was worth the wait.

On April 26, Dave Lenz picked up his airplane at Cedar Rapids and made a few flights with Dale McPherson one of the Rockwell test pilots. After they landed it was now up to Dave and I to explore the aircraft. It was great to have the opportunity to teach, and fly, the first CJ3 with Fusion. Our first flight was short – Cedar Rapids IA (CID) to Madison WI (MSN).

It was helpful to have read the 838 pages of the Fusion Operating and Installation Manuals prior to the flight, but trying to remember everything was a challenge and clearly wasn’t possible. Rockwell Collins has a few YouTube videos explaining some of the basic functions which are helpful. While it is clearly a different technology architecture, previous experience with Pro Line 21 provided the basis for many of the FMS (Flight Management System) features, outside of that is is vastly different.

After 40 hours with the Rockwell Pro Line Fusion installation, I’m still learning about all of its capabilities.  My intent with this review to offer you a glimpse into this powerful suite, not to cover every aspect of its operation.  My goal is to constantly update this blog as I teach, and fly the CJ3 over the next several months.

The System Architecture

The Fusion system is comprised of 3 Adaptive Flight Displays (AFD). Rockwell Collins also names them Display Units (DU), in case you get confused like I do sometimes. Each AFD (DU) can serve as an MFD (Multi-Function Display) or a Primary Flight Display (PFD), depending upon configuration. This also is useful when an individual display is not functioning, the other displays can show the information from the inoperative display.

CJ3 Fusion MFD MAP Co-Pilot PFD Full
CJ3 Fusion MFD MAP display – Co-Pilot PFD full screen

All of the data is entered on the AFDs, either by utilizing touch on the displays themselves, or through actions using the Cursor Control Panels (CCP) and Multi-Function Keyboard Panel (MKP).  These multiple methods of entry are one of the most powerful features of Fusion.

Controls

The CCPs (one for each pilot) and the MKP (which pilots share) are located on the center pedestal.  This is the same location that previously housed the FMS display and Keyboard for the Pro Line 21.  The location of these controls is a natural reach for both pilots and enables the pilots to use either these controls, the touch screens directly, or both in conjunction for screen navigation and entry.  The most optimal method for me is to first touch the AFD field I want, then use the CCP and MKP to do my data entry.  As you can see in the photos, the autopilot CRS, ALT, and HDG controls have moved to the top of the pedestal, still in easy reach.

CJ3 Fusion Pedestal Note CRQ HDG ALT Knobs at Top
CJ3 Fusion Pedestal Note CRQ HDG ALT Knobs at Top
CJ3 Pro Line 21 Pedestal
CJ3 Pro Line 21 Pedestal

Cursor Control Panel (CCP)

The CCPs have several functions that can mimic, or enhance, touch functions on the AFDs. The controller (RC terms this a Multifunction Knob) serves as a joystick for movement on the AFDs, selection of fields for data entry, and select list data – hence the name.  

Multifunction Keyboard Panel – MKP

The Multifunction Keyboard Panel (MKP) is extremely powerful.  In addition to the keyboard – which is now  in QWERTY format, the MKP contains a number of quick access function keys, and joystick.  Pro Line 21 pilots will see  familiar keys such as CHART, however many are new.  

Navigating the Displays

Unique to  aviation is the incorporation of certified touch-enabled PFDs that are a key component of the Pro Line Fusion.  While some avionics manufacturers may also offer touch screen MFDs, the Fusion system offers some unique capabilities.  Since only portions of the PFD are enabled for touch, you may forget which ones.  It is simple to find out, just touch the screen on the side and the ‘hot spots’ appear on the PFD to show you the active regions.

CJ3 Fusion PFD Touch-Active Regions
CJ3 Fusion PFD Touch-Active Regions

On to the Flying

Now that I’ve given you a brief introduction to the architecture, it is time to pre-flight the system and fly!

First – Check Status – Initialize System

One of the first steps is to check the status of the system (Databases, GNSS, Position, etc), initialize our weight and fuel, calculate performance parameters, and load a flight plan. 

CJ3 Fusion Setup | Status | FMS

CJ3 Fusion Setup | Status | FMSLoading The Flight Plan

The Pro Line series excels at flight plan data entry, and the Pro Line Fusion is no exception.  As mentioned, you can load flight plans using either Plan or Fly pages – however only Plan will support Airway inclusion directly.  Once the Airways are loaded, you can see the full waypoint detail in Fly, and of course modify as needed.

Departure Procedures

Departure and arrival procedures, including approaches, are loaded into the flight plan using the Dep/Arr button  The photo below show a curved departure, GROMO 4, on a recent flight from Yakima Washington (KYKM).  While initially the departure looks somewhat complex, the Fusion system makes it simple.  Since it is an RNAV departure, the Flight Director and Auto Pilot greatly facilities flying it, and it was fun flying the arc.

PFD showing the SID Arc at Yakima - KYKM
PFD showing the SID Arc at Yakima – KYKM

Cruising

Pro Line Fusion provides what seems an almost unlimited number of display options, offering the pilot a wide variety of flight plan management capability and situational awareness configurations.

One advantage of a long cross county with Pro Line Fusion, is you get a chance to explore all of the display options and features!  Sometimes it is even more important to just look outside and appreciate the unique opportunity to pilot such aircraft at 45,000 feet.

Sometimes it is just nice to look outside - and enjoy the view from Fl450
Sometimes it is just nice to look outside – and enjoy the view from Fl450

Crossing Restrictions

Entering Crossing Restrictions (e.g.  10 miles east of JLI at 10000) is easy with Pro Line 21 and Fusion offers even additional methods.  Here are some  of techniques to enter the data.

  1. Graphically on the Map.  You can touch the waypoint on your map, and the Waypoint menu appears – Select Crossing and the Crossing options shown below.
  2. Waypoint Icon – Plan or Fly Page.  Touch the Waypoint ICON (Note- it is easy to forget and touch the Waypoint name) for the Waypoint menu, Select Crossing and the Crossing options appear in another pop-up dialog/menu.
  3. Waypoint Field. – Flight Plan or Fly Page.  This is the easiest – just to the right of the Waypoint is a field – touch it and you can directly access the Crossing menu.
Crossing Restriction before a way point - Second step is to select condition (e.g. AT), altitude (5000), IAS (if applicable)
Crossing Restriction before a way point – Second step is to select condition (e.g. AT), altitude (5000), IAS (if applicable). One easy method is simply to touch the empty field to the right of the new waypoint KMSO001 and the Crossing Dialog appears.

Arrival and Approaches 

As with so many other features of Pro Line Fusion, there are a large number of methods to select an approach or arrival at an airport.  As shown above for the departure, you can select the Dep/Arr button on the Plan or Fly pages.

Perhaps a very unique method is to access arrivals by selecting the ‘feathers’ on the runway approaches depicted on the MFD at the airport icon.  As you can see by the MFD photo below, there are ‘feathers’ that depict instrument approaches to runways.  Rockwell Collins has displayed the feathers using the orientation of the runways – a great way to spatial orient a pilot to the airport.  While we have always been taught to visualize the runways at an airport, this method is far superior to guide the pilot.  With Fusion, you can simply touch one of the arrows and the available approaches appear on a pop-up dialog box.  I found it very useful when evaluating alternative airports along the route, or when I simply wanted to pick an approach at an airport.

MFD showing the 'feathers' that represent airport approaches.
MFD showing the ‘feathers’ that represent airport approaches.
Selecting Arrivals by touching the airport on the MFD - KCOS
Selecting Arrivals by touching the airport on the MFD – KCOS.

Weather

One of the coolest features of Pro Line Fusion is the outstanding number of weather display options.  In addition to onboard Radar, XM/Sirius Weather, you can also add the optional Datalink Request system for weather.  I’m only describing the tip of the iceberg, if you can forgive the weather pun!  Fusion provides an amazing number of display options, and you can only begin to explore them all over several cross country flights.

Configuring Weather for Display

The pilot can display weather on any one of the AFDs, either as an overlay on the MAP, or a dedicated Weather window to display graphical or text weather.  While the Pro Line 21 suite offered a robust list of weather options for display on the MFD, usually be accessing the menu through one of the MEM keys, the Fusion pilot must configure their display.  As noted earlier, this would be a great use of one of the Display Memory keys – perhaps User A or User B.

Conclusion

I don’t know if there is a conclusion! After spending a lot of time with Pro Line Fusion, taking 1400 photographs of the system, and a large number of hours writing, I could still spend more time exploring its capabilities.  A pilot familiar with Pro Line 21 can learn the system in a few days and operate the system proficiently, however they will only discover its full power over time, similar to some of the more advanced avionics now available to pilots.

Pro Line Fusion is definitely an significant jump in capability over Pro Line 21.  I still enjoy flying the later system, however the Fusion system is definitely worth evaluating this upgrade path.  For those CJ3 Pro Line 21 operators anticipating adding WAAS and ADS-B out to their existing aircraft, upgrading to Fusion at an approximate cost of $325,000 which includes those functions is worth evaluating.

I worked on the software for the first HUD for Flight Dynamics, later to be purchased by Rockwell Collins.  I would love to see that system integrated into Fusion.

While I enjoy using Fusion, there are still some issues that Rockwell Collins will need to resolve, such as Vspeeds, Performance, ADS-B in, and some usability changes.  Of course, I’m very particular and I can always find ways to improve aircraft systems!

For Pro Line Fusion training in the CJ3 – contact Rich Pickett at rich@PersonalWings.com