Eclipse 500 Jet Tools

Rich with WT at Quincy California 2O1
Rich with WT at Quincy California 2O1
Rich with WT at Quincy California 2O1

 

When I purchased our Eclipse 500 jet, which is an amazing airplane, I found that there were opportunities to make it easier for operators to take care of their airplanes.  I had always wanted to explore 3-D printing and this was a great chance to create some useful tools.

Working with our son, Tigre Pickett, we embarked on a fun design experience to create useful devices for Eclipse pilots.  It was simple,  I needed the accessories, they weren’t available, so why not create them and improve the tools at the same time!

Eclipse Seat Release Tool

The Eclipse has an interesting seat design.  The six seats in the Eclipse 500 can removed after first disengaging the locking pawl on each corner of the seat.  This pawl is connected to a short cable that can be lifted from the locking position, when then allows easy removal of the seat…. once you now the tricks!

Eclipse at one point had the tool available, however the manufacturer no longer made the tool.  Tigre and I embarked on our first Eclipse 3D printing project.  I came up with the basic design, which was very close to the tool that was no longer available.   Tigre, using his design experience, generated our first prototype.  After four various versions we arrived at this tool:

Eclipse Seat Release Tool - First Prototype
Eclipse Seat Release Tool – First Prototype

Our first version worked perfectly, however when I tried to use one of the tools I found that it needed to be improved.  Underneath the seats, there may be very little light and to see the cable sometimes you need a flashlight.  I thought, why not create a tool with an integrated flashlight!  In this manner you would only need one hand to release the locking cable.  A new product was born!  Integrating a flashlight into a new version of the tool took several iterations to find the perfect combination of light and tool.  Our final lighted Eclipse Seat Release Tool makes it easy to locate the cable and release it, especially in low light conditions.

Eclipse Seat Release Tool - Light Version
Eclipse Seat Release Tool – Light Version

The test in actual use proved our concept, and the ease of use.

Eclipse Seat Release Tool - in Use II
Eclipse Seat Release Tool – in Use II

We also designed the tool to have an integrated flashlight storage capability, simply turn the light around!

Eclipse Seat Tool - Lighted version in storage
Eclipse Seat Tool – Lighted version in storage

Ordering your Eclipse Seat Release Tool

Eclipse Seat Release Tool - non-lighted versions in the foreground
Eclipse Seat Release Tool – non-lighted versions in the foreground

Either version of the tool can be ordered in high performance plastic, or stainless steel – both in various colors (white, black, blue, red, yellow, green, orange).  Steel infused with bronze (black, silver, gold) is much more expensive to make, however it is very cool!

Pricing:

  • Plastic – non-lighted       $30
  • Stainless steel -non-lighted    $60
  • Plastic – with light (light included)   $40
  • Stainless steel with light (light included)  $90
  • Extra flashlight – $2.50

Contact Rich at Rich@PersonalWings.com for more information or to order the Eclipse Seat Release Tool!

Eclipse Static Port Covers

The Eclipse has a rather unique static port installation, one that can be problematic with it rains.  The location of the port, on the top of the nose, can result in water ingress into the static system with associated issues.  There have been a number of solutions over the years, including the use of tape to cover the ports.  We decided to develop a custom solution that works well for the Eclipse jets.

Our goals were:

  • Utilize high quality materials that will provide a long life to the Eclipse pilots.
  • Accommodate the high temperature of the static port in situations where it had not completely cooled down to ambient temperature.
  • Provide an excellent seal against the elements, namely moisture.
  • Be easy to use, and superior visibility to avoid leaving them in place!
  • Avoid any dissimilar metal incompatibility issues.
  • Have yet another family design project.
  • Have fun designing the tool!

Starting with the basic concept of a cover, we designed several configurations and tested them on our Eclipse jet.  With each iteration we got closer to meeting our goals.  After nearly two months of development, we had our current version, the Personal Wings Eclipse Static Port Cover.

It took some time to source all of the materials for the design, from the Remove Before Flying (RBF) tags to the fasteners.  We tried various components, with an eye to provide a lightweight device that would last for some time.  For example, all of the commercially available RBF tags were either too heavy which increases weight and potential damage to the aircraft paint, or too bulky.  We decided to design our own from a high visibility and reflective material.  They are also so light that even in high winds they should not damage the paint.  It takes a lot more time to make them, however we like the result and we can improve it over time.

The Eclipse fuselage is curved, so we wanted to match that curve.  The net result is a static port cover that requires minimum force to secure to the aircraft and provide an excellent seal at the same time.  Our design utilizes high quality nylon fasteners,  to avoid any incompatibility issues with the jet static port and potentially get stuck!  Even if they do get stuck, it is easier to remove a plastic fastener than a metal one.  We tested the fasteners with considerably more force than even a ham-fisted pilot might use and they didn’t break!

The seals are a high durometer silicone compound that is highly resistant to heat.    Silicone has a melting point of 330 degrees Celsius, so if a pilot accidentally leaves them on, at ground idle they reduce any potential damage to the airplane.  Nylon has a lower melting point,  220-265 C, which still provides some protection if they are inadvertently left on when starting the engines. All pilots using our covers need to do a careful preflight and remove them before starting the engines. Of course, we can’t control what pilots may do, and are not responsible, however we wanted to expand their options!

They may not help in extreme precipitation events, however our testing so far indicates that virtually no water gets into the static ports

Eclipse Static Port Cover - Complete Set
Eclipse Static Port Cover – Complete Set with Optional Nose RBF Tag
Eclipse Static Port Cover with RBF and Nose Strap - Side View
Eclipse Static Port Cover with RBF and Nose Strap – Side View
Eclipse Static Port Cover Profile
Eclipse Static Port Cover Profile

Ordering your Eclipse Static Port Cover

Pricing:

  • $160 for 2 complete static port covers
  • $20 extra for nose ‘Remove Before Flying’ streamer.

Each set is covered by our limited 6 month warranty.  Basically, if you lose any subpart (screws, seals, streamers, etc.) we will repair or replace, at our discretion, the defective component.  For an additional 6 months, we will repair at our cost of parts and return postage.

While we do our best to make a quality product that should seal very well, the purchaser assumes all responsibility for usability and effective use of the device.  Since we are constantly looking at ways to improve the product, the versions we ship may be slightly different than the photos above.

How to Order:

Contact Rich at Rich@PersonalWings.com for more information or to order the Static Covers.

Eclipse Pitot Covers

In looking at various options for pitot probe covers for the Eclipse I knew we could come up with a great solution.  After several designs, I settled on a high temperature, fiber reinforced  silicone option.  The material, while not intended for use on active probes, can withstand up to 390 F.  They provide a very tight seal on the probes, and will stay on even in high winds.

Eclipse Pitot and Static Port Cover sets
Eclipse Pitot and Static Port Cover sets with optional nose strap
Left Pitot and Standby Probe Covers
Left Pitot and Standby Probe Covers – shown without optional nose strap

 

How to Order:

Pricing:

  • $120 for 1 complete pitot probe cover set (three probes)
  • Optional nose strap:  $15

Contact Rich at Rich@PersonalWings.com for more information or to order the Static Covers.

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!