Thinking Ahead: Choosing a plane for IFR

Discussion in 'Cleared for the Approach' started by MarkH, Oct 8, 2018.

  1. MarkH

    MarkH Filing Flight Plan

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    I'm new to this and working on my PPL, but I plan to purchase a plane and get my IFR Cert. I have been considering many different planes, but I have a preference for E-AB. I have been looking at Avid Flyers (and clones), with the intention of buying one with a Rotax 912 (or upgrading to a 912 later) since it is a reliable (and certified) engine. But, when I mention this to another (more experienced) pilot he suggested that I should not use a Kitfox for IFR. I didn't have time to ask for an explanation as to why, so I am asking here.

    I understand that the plane would be too light for flying into heavy winds, but my primary application of IFR would be landing/taking off from KNEW in fog (because New Orleans always has fog, and some of my family lives there).

    My questions are, why wouldn't a plane like the Kitfox be good for calm, low clouds and fog IMC? Is there anything I could do to improve the plane for IMC flying? What would be good IFR/IMC ready alternatives to the kitfox in the same $25K to $40K experimental range?
     
  2. tawood

    tawood Pattern Altitude

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    Well first, I'd take "fog" out of your repertoire...not too many small planes for fog...at least not safely.

    If I recall, Rotax doesn't like their engines to be used for IFR, although I'm not sure why they say that, or even if it matters in an experimental...
     
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  3. MarkH

    MarkH Filing Flight Plan

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    I feel this question will reveal my inexperience, but why can't most small planes handle fog? It seems (to my thought at least) that flying in the fog would be less about the plane and more about the pilot, avionics and situational awareness. What am I missing in this thought process?
     
  4. flyingron

    flyingron Touchdown! Greaser!

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    As Tawood alludes, most ExAB operating limitations permit IFR provided the aircraft is suitably equipped. It's not so much "too light" but rather too slow and range limited. You've got at best a 100 knot aircraft with limited range. You get into some strong winds, you're extremely limited. The next problem is that the Rotax 912 only has a 18A alternator. What are you going to do for avionics?

    The problem is fog sits on the ground and that as far as a light single is going to go, is the one place you need visual conditions. Even on the best of circumstances (an ILS), you have to have 1/4 mile visibility before you go below 200'. If you've ever actually landed in 1/4-mile vis, you'll find it sobering. The good news is the Kitfox approach is so damned slow you'll have plenty of time to soil yourself while figuring it out.
     
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  5. benyflyguy

    benyflyguy Line Up and Wait

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    What’s the mission aside from getting IfR ?
     
  6. MarkH

    MarkH Filing Flight Plan

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    The mission I have in mind is to get IFR experience, travel a bit alone, $100 hamburgers with another person, and to build time and experience.
    Some of the destinations include secluded strips as short as 2500', and places with family and friends live including New Orleans, Tennesse, and Maryland. I'm not overly concerned about speed, but I am concerned about gph. Intend to install IFR instruments, with the intention of building IFR time in safer conditions, flying over low clouds, but the only situation I can see myself facing approach/departure in IMC is landing in New Orleans or DC. Ideally, I would like to be able to handle that, but if I can only fly over clouds that would be at or near VFR minimums, then that would be acceptable
     
  7. Mtns2Skies

    Mtns2Skies Super Moderator Management Council Member

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    Honestly, a well IFR equipped 172/Cherokee sounds like it would be the most cost-effective plane you could get for your mission. I know you said you wanted E/AB, but I think you'd end up spending a lot more to get what you want.
     
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  8. MarkH

    MarkH Filing Flight Plan

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    I have considered 172/Cherokees, but my preference for experimentals comes from lower maintenance costs and a desire to have the option for new and interesting avionics.
     
  9. benyflyguy

    benyflyguy Line Up and Wait

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    I agree. There are a lot of them out there. Time tested. And you can upgrade to what ever new avionics you want. That will cost the same no matter what tin box you put them in. The experimental sound cool but to get what you want might be tougher.
    Anybody out there can chime in about experimentals with good/ acceptable IFR platforms ??
     
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  10. Mr.T

    Mr.T Pre-Flight

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    No first-hand experience, but I was recently looking at several RVs that were well equipped for IFR, a couple of RV-6's and an RV-9 with a full suite - dual glass panel, WAAS GPS, 2-axis autopilot, an actual airplane engine(!), the works. So they're out there and apparently very capable.
     
  11. Eric Gleason

    Eric Gleason Pre-takeoff checklist

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    @MarkH, one thing you’ll find as you gain IMC experience is that the air inside the clouds is often a little bumpy. Kitfoxes and similar planes with light wing loadings are affected by light bumps a lot more, so they’ll be more of a handful when flying IFR. That said, when I am in a position to buy my weekend fun plane, a Kitfox will be on the short list and I’ll have it IFR equipped just to keep from getting stuck sometimes. I also won’t be shooting approaches to minimums.

    No light single is good for true fog down to the ground. While most airports don’t have legal takeoff minimums, most pilots won’t take off without having at least the landing minimums in case they need to return to the airport.

    I like the RVs and similar planes for good IFR capabilities in E-AB, and there are a few others that are similar, though less abundant. Cherokees are also abundant and a little better value than 172s.

    Avionics for certified aircraft are considerably more expensive, and you have to pay an A&P for the install or know someone who will sign off your work. For E-AB you get cheaper options and can save money by doing the install yourself.
     
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  12. Hank S

    Hank S En-Route

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    For IFR travel, you will want some speed as mentioned above, because you won't always fly with the wind. Find something with decent maneuverability, but you will find controlability to be more important, as IFR doesn't have many sharp turns or sudden changes. Stable and easy to fly is what you want, save the zippy, twisty planes for fun VFR days.
     
  13. mwagg737

    mwagg737 Pre-Flight

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    A Mooney is a excellent choice for an IFR platform. Very stable Aircraft and you can get somewhere in them!


    Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk
     
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  14. Grum.Man

    Grum.Man Pattern Altitude

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    A kitfox is no less capable for IFR than a 172 with maybe the exception of wind. They cruise just as fast and most have more capable avionics. My only aversion to operating a kitfox in hard IMC is all the protrusions that could accumulate ice. A lot of hardcore pilots will scoff at this but probably the most valuable thing next to your primary instruments is a good autopilot. I would take a plane with an autopilot and steam gauges over one with a glass panel and no autopilot.
     
  15. paflyer

    paflyer Final Approach

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    You get gph and speed!
     
    Last edited: Nov 3, 2018
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  16. onthecoast

    onthecoast Filing Flight Plan

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    Hundreds of IFR hours in my M20E... Stable, economical, relatively affordable.
     
  17. Hank S

    Hank S En-Route

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    Is there a better combination than low gph and high mph?
     
  18. GRG55

    GRG55 Final Approach

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    High mph and headroom. ;)
     
  19. SbestCFII

    SbestCFII Line Up and Wait

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    "I plan to purchase a plane and get my IFR Cert." If the intention is to purchase an experimental and get your instrument rating in that plane, you can hang it up. You can fly an experimental in IFR if properly equipped, but you can't take your check-ride in your experimental aircraft.
     
  20. Hank S

    Hank S En-Route

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    Yeah, it's a shame my fast, efficient Mooney is so cramped . . . . No cargo, no headroom, just me crammed in with several hundred pounds of hurricane relief supplies.

    20180920_115534.jpg
     
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  21. Ravioli

    Ravioli Final Approach

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    Easy to find IFR equipped RV's
    <---- there's one right thar

    You can search it on VAF and you'll find that not only are a lot of people flying 6's, 7's, 8s', 9, and 10's IFR, but a growing number are doing their checkrides in them. I plan to add to that number "one of these days."

    Most of these are Lycosaurs. My understanding is that the Rotax is only popular in the 12 (LSA). There seems to be no reason you couldn't equip an E-LSA, but why? You can get a well equipped, flying RV6 for ~50k and go 200MPH.

    And stay away from the fog. It's never where you need or want to be.
     
  22. Hank S

    Hank S En-Route

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    I beg to differ! The only fog around on Saturday was at the airport with a pancake breakfast. Someone flew an approach and at 400 agl was just on top of the fog. I asked for a report from someone on the ground, they said the fog was down to ground level.

    I wanted to be there . . . . Instead, turned around and went home, put 32 minutes in my logbook with 1 landing. Prettiest clear blue sky, not a puff of wind.

    Ended up at Waffle House. (I was hungry!)
     
  23. CC268

    CC268 Final Approach

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    Interesting...didn't know you could do a checkride in an experimental. That's cool. But you can't do flight instruction in them right?
     
  24. Ravioli

    Ravioli Final Approach

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    Snarky: There's a thread for reporting this to the FSDO! (hahahahhaha)

    Real answer: The plane cannot be rented for any training without an LOA. Those are typically granted so that transition training can be done in the CFI's own ship. The owner of an EXP can accept training from a certificated and willing CFI or CFII in his own ship, and pay said instructor. That is not "accepting compensation."

    How else would we do flight reviews, IPC's, and the like?
     
    Last edited: Nov 5, 2018
  25. CC268

    CC268 Final Approach

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    Ahh that makes sense.
     
  26. Hank S

    Hank S En-Route

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    So it's OK to give compensation, just not to accept compensation?
     
  27. Ravioli

    Ravioli Final Approach

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    Yes. You can pay a CFI for instruction in any airplane that you possess. The use of the plane would not be commercial, and the payment for instruction is allowable and expected.
     
  28. Dean Hanson

    Dean Hanson Filing Flight Plan

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    I have had two light sport aircraft. A CTLS and a Tecnam. Both with Rotex engines. I put a Garman 650 into the Tecnam so I could learn to fly IFR. Here’s what I found out. I had the legal equipment as far as avionics go, but Rotex prohibits IMC with the engine. So did Tecnam manufacturing. So I can practice IFR approaches but it could not be flown into IMC. I was also unable to find an FAA instructor to be willing to give me a test in a light sport. So I shopped for different plane. I ultimately found what I think is an absolutely amazing IFR plane. I bought a Cessna TTX. Basically the same thing as the Colombia 400. These are both turbo airplanes but you can buy a 350 NA. Everything in the plane is duel. There are dual batteries, Dual AHARS, dual alternators, dual radios. There is a complete redundancy with everything. Now that I have my IFR ticket, and I fly a lot in IMC, I absolutely love the safety of the redundancy.
     
  29. GRG55

    GRG55 Final Approach

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    FTFY. If you would like to get into a hurricane relief load carrying contest while flying our planes solo, I'm all in. :D
     
  30. Hank S

    Hank S En-Route

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    A. The post I replied to with the above was about headroom.
    B. You omitted the part where I said singles. You fly a twin, no contest. It'd be like comparing my Ranger to a new F250 long bed . . . .
     
  31. N1120A

    N1120A Pre-takeoff checklist

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    The only "experimental" I'd ever consider flying hard IFR in is an RV, or perhaps a Glassair. Kitfoxes are very cool planes, but not for any ability to fly IFR. Also, anything other than a thin layer and I want the added safety of an AP.
     
  32. Lon33

    Lon33 Pre-takeoff checklist

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    I have read this, online, many times. But I’ve looked at Rotax’s owner’s manuals for all of its airplane engine models, and I haven’t found a “no IFR” or “VFR only” statement in any of them. The Rotax website doesn’t say anything about IFR flight either. Do you have a link (or cite) to Rotax’s prohibition of IFR flight?
     
  33. Ravioli

    Ravioli Final Approach

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    I'm kinda with @Lon33 on this one. Similar to the "no rain with a wood prop" warnings.

    RV-12s that are E-LSA or E-AB are routinely outfitted for IFR, and they run the Rotax 912.

    [Note: I don't have a wooden prop anymore, I have a composite with nickel leading edges]
     
    Last edited: Nov 8, 2018
  34. MarkH

    MarkH Filing Flight Plan

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    As I have learned more, I have decided to focus on a VFR aircraft and renting for IFR. But, since this thread has offered some strong insights, I will follow up with a question.

    What are your thoughts on fitting a VFR aircraft with an Artifical Horizon, Nav and CDI (It's getting a com and transponder so I can fly in a Mode C Veil), so I can use it for Hood Time toward my Instrument Rating?
     
  35. Ravioli

    Ravioli Final Approach

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    That question is mind bottling.

     
  36. James331

    James331 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    What are you going to using the plane for?

    A zenith isn’t a bad buy, and nothing wrong with IFR in a properly rigged kit fox

    Also some certified stuff that’ll work too

    You’ll want a /G with a autopilot with GPSS and alt hold at a minimum.

    Also never launch IFR if you’re not prepared to go the entire flight in IMC to mins.
     
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