FADECs in GA

Discussion in 'Pilot Training' started by PeterK, Sep 5, 2019.

  1. PeterK

    PeterK Filing Flight Plan

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    I am curious why there is a lack of FADECs in general aviation? I know there are some planes with FADEC, but majority still use separate throttle/pitch/mixture controls.
     
  2. MauleSkinner

    MauleSkinner Final Approach

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    They were certified before FADEC, and changing certification is expensive.
     
  3. Ryanb

    Ryanb Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    Basically the same reason as the rest of modern upgrades for GA - certification costs. It’s certainly possible and we have the technology, but the issue is that we don't want to spend the money for it. I would expect to see it sooner for EXP than Certified, however.
     
  4. PeterK

    PeterK Filing Flight Plan

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    That's a very bad reason. :(
     
  5. mondtster

    mondtster En-Route

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    Not to mention that most of the GA fleet was built before FADEC was even a consideration.

    People continue to forget this. We’re flying 1960s and 1970s machines for the most part. Most cars from that era didn’t have any fancy controls either.
     
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  6. Velocity173

    Velocity173 Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    FADEC failed a bunch on the Liberty XL that I used to fly. Hardly anyone is qualified to fix it so the thing was broke most of the time. FADEC in our helo is almost flawless except the one time it failed in flight on me. New ECU is a expensive fix. :(
     
  7. Tantalum

    Tantalum En-Route

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    And to take it a step further @PeterK .. even "new" designed and sold planes that come from the era of where FADEC is a thing (Cirrus for example) are still using aircraft engines that were designed in the 1940s.. new piston GA sales are basically in the trash, selling tiny numbers yearly.. I think last year Cessna and Piper each sold around 200 piston planes, and Cirrus around 300 (or something like that). That's too low of volume to actually get anywhere

    BUT... Conti / Lyco / Austro / Rotax all make FADEC engines.. so they are out there. The new twin Tecnam that Cape Air just bought has FADEC Lycos
     
  8. Tantalum

    Tantalum En-Route

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    **I'm have a huge (and well known here) problem with our antiquated tech in our aircraft.. it's ridiculous that you need to monkey with the fuel air ratio to follow an otherwise prescribed fuel / air ratio schedule... wouldn't need anything "smart" to make that automated.. you could probably spend $100 on parts and code up an arduino that would manage your mixture accordingly. BUT.. it's also not that complicated for the end user to do manually, and, given the nature of aviation most people like having control over these elements. In a car you really don't have a need to manage your mixture.. but in an aircraft you could have reasons to fly rich of peak, lean of peak, etc.
     
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  9. hindsight2020

    hindsight2020 En-Route

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    Are you new to this hobby? Of course it's a terrible reason, which is why the factory-built market has been further gentrifying and shrinking in the last two decades, whereas the experimental side is growing, particularly on the bottom end of the price point. Only reason it hasn't exploded is those of us who need backseats got stonewalled with the snuffing of the primary non-commercial category during the part 23 re-write implementation. So we begrudgingly remain on the certified side until we can downsize, or we exit outright. The 4-seater EAB market is effectively non-existent for those of us who don't build and can't afford the price tag on a Cirrus.

    You're missing the point. We know we're flying old contraptions; the point is that the stated cost of retrofit is artificially high, not technologically onerous otherwise, so the old contraption angle is irrelevant. The treatment of recreational vehicle certification as though they all are to be utilized for revenue/common carriage is a subversion of the spirit of intent behind these certifications, and needs to be overhauled. Bureaucrats at the FAA stonewalled that effort in 2015, and we remain captive audience as a result. Nothing reasonable or justified about that.
     
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  10. nauga

    nauga Pattern Altitude PoA Supporter

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    Getting one like this to work may be easy, but the difficulty lies in getting one to fail predictably, safely, and gracefully. Designing that, testing it, and proving it does all that significantly increase complexity and cost for a system that has been easily managed manually in the average recip GA airplane for long time.

    Nauga,
    questioning (full) authority
     
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  11. James331

    James331 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Solution in search of a problem.
     
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  12. PeterK

    PeterK Filing Flight Plan

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    RTOS are well understood and have been around for thousands of years
     
  13. nauga

    nauga Pattern Altitude PoA Supporter

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    and I’ve had more throttle position sensors fail in my car than throttle, mixture, or prop cable failures combined in my airplane.

    The issue is not (just) with the OS, it’s with the fault tolerance and failure management of the entire system, and proof of functionality of same. I’m a fan and a user of digital engine controls in the right application. But I also know the failure modes and how and when to engage the backup or manual fuel controllers and a little about development that goes into all of them.

    IME those who think man-rated digital controls are ‘simple’ usually haven’t successfully fielded any.

    Nauga,
    who would be happy to be proven wrong
     
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  14. Tantalum

    Tantalum En-Route

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    Sure. Moving a little red knob doesn't take a tremendous amount of workload and does give the pilot that *full* authority

    it doesn't seem to have too much sex appeal anyway either. Unlike big beautiful glass panels that Aspen, Avidyne, Garmin and the others offer a system like this really isn't very exciting

    the big advantage in my book would be easier starting especially during a hot start event from a fadec system.. or.. if it could be used to squeeze out more power from the same gph..

    It is funny though that even in a million dollar piston general aviation airplane you are basically manually controlling the entire combustion cycle inside the engine.. unlike the pixie dust that makes our cars go and guarantee perfect starts each time
     
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  15. PeterK

    PeterK Filing Flight Plan

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    No so long ago airplanes had a flight engineer controlling the ... hmm... engines somewhere in the back of the cabin. He was replaced by the FADEC. While I certainly can appreciate the simplicity, I would also like to see some progress. So far the only explanation seems to be the high cost of FAA certification. The card have also became more complex and definitely more pricey, however the lack of progress (and high cost) in GA disappoints.
    Oh, well...
     
  16. PeterK

    PeterK Filing Flight Plan

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    It amuses me how a rather new company can outsell well-established heavy weights. I think it's partially dues to the ages old 172 design vs modern composite airframe.
     
  17. Tantalum

    Tantalum En-Route

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    You, my friend, just opened a serious can of worms here at PoA LOL!!
     
  18. Tantalum

    Tantalum En-Route

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    In all seriousness @PeterK there are a number of reasons. Keeping aside all the "personal" attributes (perceived comfort / chute / safety.. "not-a-real-pilot-stigma") it is going to be intrinsically harder to sell a PA28 or C172 for almost $500K new when there are *hundreds* of them for sale used.. a ton of which can be had for $100K or *much* less.. I'd much rather buy a PA28 for $60K than a new one for $500K!

    The Cirrus sales figures have dropped dramatically from their heyday of almost 1,000 planes sold in a single year.. economics are one thing, but as more become available on the used market and later generations (anything after G3) offer fewer advancements more and more people are buying preowned there as well

    I think Diamond could be a real player but they're just a tad too goofy (although I *love* the DA62).. they're not cheap either.. and given that they're a foreign brand running diesel engines I think that deters most buyers

    The GAMA data is great.. https://gama.aero/wp-content/uploads/2019ShipmentReportQ105172019Final.pdf

    Q1 of 2019 shows the following:
    -Cirrus 80
    -Piper 58
    -Cessna 100
    ^mind you, those numbers include the Citation executive jets and Cirrus SF50.. as well as Piper turboprops.. so take with a grain of salt. If you compare **strictly single engine piston** you'll get:
    -Cirrus 66
    -Piper 42
    -Cessna 35

    It's not even worth mentioning Mooney, but since they're a classic and still technically exist only 2.. yes *TWO* were sold in Q1 of 2019. Same with Bonanza.. now a Textron product.. only 1 was sold. ^these are actually great examples of the earlier point. Why spend over $600K for either of these planes when you can buy a badass Mooney J for $150K (or less) and a badass Bonanza/Debonair on the used market as well
     
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  19. James331

    James331 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    That’s what happens when you stop making skywagons and cubs/supercubs.

    It’s like you have ONE job
     
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  20. Tantalum

    Tantalum En-Route

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    Probably the coolest single engine piston GA plane ever built (not a skywagon, I know, but close, the 190 and 195..)
    upload_2019-9-5_22-12-54.png
    Standing next to one, or sitting in one of these... you feel like you can take on the world. A proper beast!

    But Cessna abandoned us and went hard core corporate. The C172 lives on for the schools.. otherwise they're not interested in the piston market.
     
  21. GRG55

    GRG55 Final Approach

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    Cirrus doesn't compete with the 172; the comparison is specious.

    The market for new piston aircraft is for the most part bifurcated - high end, expensive, well appointed luxury baubles (Cirrus, Bonanzas, Barons, Piper Malibus, etc.) and trainers (172s, Cherokees, Seminoles).

    Not much in between, and what there is sells in minuscule numbers compared to the "barbell" market described above (rag & tube Huskys, American Champion, a few aerobatic planes like the Extra 300).
     
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  22. nauga

    nauga Pattern Altitude PoA Supporter

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    Benefit/Cost. If it significantly increased efficiency or safety or something along those lines people would be more willing to sink the cost. Technology for technology's sake really doesn't add anything but cost and complexity. To your example of the flight engineer, if FADECs were the sole reason the position could be eliminated (and I'll cede that point to you as I don't know of any other reason) then they significantly decreased operating costs and were worth the investment. I've never flown a GA airplane where a flight engineer was required crew, so I still don't see the benefit.

    Nauga,
    and a maze of twisty passages
     
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  23. GRG55

    GRG55 Final Approach

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    And new and unique failure modes...
     
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  24. James331

    James331 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    A proper beast indeed, and actually quite practical from what I hear, Ill agree with ya here 100%
     
  25. nauga

    nauga Pattern Altitude PoA Supporter

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    The workload reduction provided by an integrated glass panel makes them worth the cost in my opinion, The workload reduction from a single-lever power control not so much given the added risk. As for 'sex appeal' I like stuff that looks good but I'm far more interested in function over form. I admit I might be in the minority.

    This may be as close as we'll come to agreement - I agree both of these would be possible with a FADEC. Personally I'm willing to accept a little more difficulty starting in lieu of an arduino-based controller with the capability and authority to shut my motor down in the event of an unchecked and/or undetectable failure.

    Nauga,
    and the sound of silence
     
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  26. James331

    James331 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    ^ and with a little practice and experience “hot starts” arnt even a big deal.
     
  27. PeterK

    PeterK Filing Flight Plan

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    My thinking is that the FADEC will not only reduce workload, but also would reduce the training time for the PPL and will lower the entering barrier to the GA.
    (dunno why the font size is messed up)
     
  28. mondtster

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    I've given enough dual to tell you that it would not reduce either in any significant way.
     
  29. nauga

    nauga Pattern Altitude PoA Supporter

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    That's an interesting take on it, I'll admit. I never thought of a conventional constant-speed prop and mixture as being high workload and it definitely did not take much time in initial or later training...but everyone does not train the same. It would definitely take more time for ME to learn the ins and outs of a new fuel controller and degraded mode procedures than it did to learn the operation of prop and mixture controls...but that's not all flight time or time under instruction. System level understanding of the FADEC is more difficult, however.

    Nauga,
    black, blue, and red
     
  30. denverpilot

    denverpilot Tied Down

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    I about fell out of my chair laughing. Clearly you’ve never had to patch either an RTOS or the code running on one? LOL LOL LOL. Thousands of years. I’m dying here.

    Had to prove in a lab that one did exactly what the RTOS maker said it did AND sent an engineer to you if it failed, which it did? (Thanks VxWorks... that $200K came in handy.)

    But I’m curious. Which commercial RTOS running on Arduino toy boards that themselves don’t meet any of the electrical specs for being in a noisy aircraft electrical system, were you planning on using, pray-tell? LOL. LOL LOL.

    Best laugh I’ve had all week.
     
  31. denverpilot

    denverpilot Tied Down

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    Haven’t got anything but anecdotal on this one, but Mike Busch claimed he asked every pilot using his services for maintenance who had a magneto problem, if at any point they reached down and tried running on one mag.

    He said the number who didn’t was above 80%.

    Accurate or not, it’s worth noting.

    Having all the buttons, levers, and knobs doesn’t mean you’ll actually use them as intended.

    But it doesn’t mean a cheap device made in someone’s garage will fail in a failsafe way either...

    Does your engine failure drill include the mags? Do you do it? :)
     
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  32. bflynn

    bflynn Final Approach

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    We will have all electric aircraft before FADEC takes hold in the GA market.

    Used in experimental, but like so many other things, the FAA keeps advancements out of the certified market until they are proven through very extensive official testing.

    Another example is seat belts. NASCAR has been improving and upgrading seat belts for decades. Fatalities are way down because of their safety improvements. Yet I still fly a 1980 airplane with the completely ineffective 1980s seat belts in it. The advice I have been given is “carry a pillow and put it in front of your face right before you crash”. The FAA ought to be embarrassed by that.
     
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  33. lancie00

    lancie00 Line Up and Wait

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    I thought seat belts in commercial planes were just to help identify the bodies?
     
  34. denverpilot

    denverpilot Tied Down

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    This is more of a problem of flying a 1980 airplane the way the certification works, than FAAs. If you want a 2019 seat belt, you buy a 2019 airplane.

    Or you retrofit your 1980 airplane, and FAA hasn’t exactly blocked or even impeded seat belt upgrades. You could have put a four or five point harness in it for every seat if you liked, even in 1980.
     
  35. Capt. Geoffrey Thorpe

    Capt. Geoffrey Thorpe Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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  36. frfly172

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    I have the fadec engine in my liberty, maintenance can be expensive . The cost of an overhaul can be prohibitive. I have been fortunate that I have had little problem with the fadec system. Have 1700 hrs on the engine.
     
  37. AGLyme

    AGLyme Pre-takeoff checklist

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    "...We will have all electric aircraft before FADEC takes hold in the GA market..."

    I agree. With the auto companies now bypassing the "hybrid" (gas + electric) engine for all electric, they are betting Billions that it is a matter of time when battery life will be acceptable and cheap... When that happens, and it will, aviation will embrace quickly. Light Sports will be introduced with electric engines with 500 miles range, then heavier 4 place models, and so on. Pipistrel, Flight Design and others have working models, but the battery life is great for a spin around the house and back. Not ready for prime time.
    Electric will solve a lot of GA's cost issues, especially cutting the costs per hour by $50-60 - just for gas. I'll bet GA will take off (forgive the pun) when electric airplanes are introduced, making flying cheaper and a little quieter which will make the complaining neighbors happier.
    The Rotax powering my CTLS is a fuel injected model; no carb heat, no mixture and very cheap to run. When the e-motor can fly 500 miles, my modern aircraft motor will depreciate fast.
     
  38. nauga

    nauga Pattern Altitude PoA Supporter

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    Improved seat belts, in-belt airbags, structural airbags, and ballistic chute add-ons all available for older standard-certificated airplanes via STC.

    Nauga,
    and the sudden stop at the end
     
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  39. flyingcheesehead

    flyingcheesehead Touchdown! Greaser!

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    "Rather new"? Cirrus was founded in 1984.

    *Relatively* new when compared with Cessna and Piper, yes, but not "Rather" new.
     
  40. Tantalum

    Tantalum En-Route

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    VK-30 lol