Bearhawk now flying on five continents

General Aviation News

Bearhawk Aircraft reports its line of utility, transport and recreational aircraft are now flying on five continents.

The Barrows Bearhawk was originally conceived and first built in the mid-1990s in Virginia. Today, three models are offered in both plan and kit form for amateur aircraft builders.

Designer Bob Barrows originally brought the aircraft to fruition as a means of transporting aircraft engines in support of his engine overhaul business.  Bob has ties to North Carolina being a member of EAA Chapter 8 at Shiloh Airport in Rockingham County.  Meeting times and more information on the chapter is below.

The original four-place Bearhawk served its designated utility role well. But not one to sit on his achievements, Barrows proceeded to work on subsequent models to include the Bearhawk Patrol, a tandem two-place rendition in 2002. The first kit-built Bearhawk LSA debuted in 2012. Also a two-place aircraft, the LSA is a lightweight all-new design that meets Light-Sport Aircraft requirements­­ while sharing the backcountry qualities of its predecessors.

The latest incarnation is a derivative of the original four-place Bearhawk airframe incorporating design features of all three previous aircraft. This “Model-B” Bearhawk offers increased speed, improved handling, and other features, according to company officials.

Today Bearhawk aircraft are operating on five continents, including Africa (in South Africa), North America (in 36 states), South America (in Brazil), Europe (in Norway and Germany), and Australia (in New Zealand’s “Southern Alps”).

In 2013, there were 82 Bearhawk aircraft on the FAA registry, while today there are 112. Many more kits and plans have been sold. As these aircraft are completed, the number of Bearhawk operating around the world is increasing, company official said.

Stoneville, NC

President: Don Collins
Contact: 336-404-0063 |
Meetings: 2nd Sat., Noon 12:00p
Location: Shiloh Airport
2691 Settle Bridge Road
Stoneville, NC



We’ve been doing it since our earliest days as student pilots. Now that we’re aircraft owners, we still do it as part of our standard preflight ritual. But are we doing it right?

It turns out that there’s a lot more to checking the engine’s oil dipstick properly than just making sure that the oil level is above the minimum-for-flight level listed in the POH. If we really pay attention, we can learn a lot about the condition of our oil and of our engine.


The engines on my Cessna 310 have 12-quart sumps—13 quarts if you include the quart in the spin-on oil filter. When I first acquired the airplane, my mechanic would fill the sump to its maximum capacity at each oil change. It didn’t take me long to discover that the engines didn’t like that, and promptly tossed several quarts out the engine breathers.

My POH states that the “minimum for flight” oil level is 9 quarts. So I asked my mechanic to service the sump to 10 quarts (instead of 12), and I’d add a quart of make-up oil when the level got down to 9 quarts. That worked better, but I was still seeing a fair amount of oil on the underside of the engine nacelles and the outer gear doors.

After I became a mechanic myself and learned about such things, I checked the Type Certificate Data Sheet (TCDS) for my Continental TSIO-520-BB engines, and found that an oil level of 6 quarts was sufficient to make good oil pressure in all flight attitudes from 23° nose-up to 17° nose-down. Armed with this information, I decided to experiment with lower oil levels.

What I discovered was that oil consumption (and the oily mess on the airframe) was drastically reduced if I maintained the oil level at around 8 quarts on the dipstick. Since then, I’ve avoided filling the sump to more than 9 quarts, and I normally do not add make-up oil until the dipstick reads about 7½ quarts. (This still gives me a 1½-quart “cushion” above what the engine needs to operate reliably in all flight attitudes.)

You might wonder why Continental put a 12-quart sump on an engine that requires only 6 quarts. The answer is that FAA certification requirements demand that the engine be designed to hold twice as much oil as it actually needs:

FAR §33.39 Lubrication system.

(a) The lubrication system of the engine must be designed and constructed so that it will function properly in all flight attitudes and atmospheric conditions in which the airplane is expected to operate. In wet sump engines, this requirement must be met when only one-half of the maximum lubricant supply is in the engine.

The TCDS for my TSIO-520-BB engines states that maximum acceptable oil consumption is about one quart per hour. If my engines actually used that much oil, then I’d need to fill the sumps nearly to their maximum capacity to ensure that I had enough oil to make a 5-hour flight without risking oil starvation. But since I know from long experience that my engines use more like 0.1 quart per hour, there’s no reason for me to carry anywhere near that much oil.

Every aircraft engine installation has an optimum oil level at which oil consumption is minimized and the engine is happiest. I would encourage you to experiment to determine what oil level works best for your airplane. Your engine will operate properly at 50% of its maximum oil capacity—guaranteed. As long as you keep the oil level a quart or two above the 50% point, your engine will be happy.

The best time to get an accurate dipstick reading is just prior to the first flight of the day. If you check the oil level shortly after the engine has been run for awhile, the dipstick reading will be noticeably lower because a significant quantity of oil remains adhered to various engine components. Another reading taken 24 hours later will often show an oil level that is ½ to 1 quart higher.


Having assured yourself that there’s enough oil in the engine, your next task is to make note of how much oil your engine is using. Keeping track of oil consumption—particularly any significant increase in oil consumption rate—is an important tool for monitoring engine condition.

The most common method of measuring oil consumption is to record how many quarts of make-up oil are added between oil changes, and to divide the total by the number of hours in the oil-change interval. (For example, if the oil is changed after 50 hours and 6 quarts of make-up oil were added during that time, the average oil consumption rate is 50/6 or 8.3 hours per quart.)

Oil consumption graph

Oil consumption isn’t linear—it accelerates as the oil deteriorates over time. The rate of consumption during the first 10 hours after an oil change is a good indication of engine condition.

However, this approach obscures the fact that oil consumption is not linear over the oil change interval. If you keep track of when you add each quart of make-up oil, you’ll find that less oil is consumed at first, and progressively more oil is consumed as the oil’s time-in-service increases.

The reason for this accelerating oil consumption is that the viscosity of the oil decreases as the oil deteriorates. Mineral oils lose viscosity due to a phenomenon called “polymer shearing” in which the long organic molecules are actually broken apart by mechanical action of the engine’s moving parts. Multigrade oils also lose viscosity because their viscosity-index improvers oxidize when exposed to high temperatures.

The increased rate of oil consumption provides tangible evidence that your engine oil is getting “long in the tooth” and ought to be changed soon.


Whenever you check the dipstick, it’s also important to make note of the oil’s appearance—particularly its color and clarity. The oil’s appearance offers valuable clues to its condition and that of your engine.

Oil color

Color and transparency are important indicators of engine condition. When oil becomes dark and opaque, it should be changed. If this happens rapidly, it suggests that the engine has too much blow-by past the rings, or that oil temperature is too hot.

Fresh engine oil has a light amber color and is so transparent that it’s sometimes hard to read the dipstick level. As the oil remains in service, it gradually darkens in color and becomes progressively more opaque.

The darkening of engine oil is caused by contamination and oxidation. Contaminants include carbon (soot), lead salts and sulfur from combustion byproducts that get past the compression rings and into the crankcase (“blow-by”), as well as any dust or dirt that gets past the induction air filter. Oxidation of the oil occurs when it is exposed to high localized temperatures at it circulates through the engine, and results in the formation of coke. Various oil additives are also vulnerable to oxidation, particularly the viscosity-index improvers used in multiweight oils.

Dispersant additives are blended in the oil to help keep these so-called “insolubles” in suspension in order to keep the engine clean and minimize sludge deposits. As the quantity of insolubles in suspension increases, the oil darkens and becomes opaque.

It is important to note how quickly this darkening occurs. If your oil remains relatively light-colored and translucent after 25 hours in service, you can be reasonably confident that your cylinders and rings are in fine condition and that your oil can prudently remain in service for 40 or 50 hours. On the other hand, if your oil gets dark and opaque after 10 or 15 hours, you’d be wise to change your oil more often—perhaps at 25 hours—and you may want to investigate the possibility that one or more cylinders are excessively worn.

Such rapid discoloration is often a good indicator that the oil is distressed. In one study, 90% of oil that appeared abnormally dark on the dipstick was subsequently found by laboratory analysis to be non-compliant with required specifications. Oil that is dark and opaque from blow-by past the rings is very likely to be rich in acids and other corrosive compounds that can attack your cam and lifters, and that’s probably the #1 cause of engines failing to make TBO. Any time your oil appears dark or opaque, you would be wise to drain it and replace it with fresh oil and a new oil filter, regardless of the oil’s time-in-service.

Mike Busch is arguably the best-known A&P/IA in general aviation, honored by the FAA in 2008 as National Aviation Maintenance Technician of the Year. Mike is a 7,500-plus hour pilot and CFI, an aircraft owner for 45 years, a prolific aviation author, co-founder of AVweb, and presently heads a team of world-class GA maintenance experts at Savvy Aviator. Mike’s book Manifesto: A Revolutionary Approach to General Aviation Maintenance is available from in paperback and Kindle versions.

Work begins on homebuilt for disabled pilots

General Aviation News

On Sept. 10, 2016, members of Experimental Aircraft Association Chapter 1083 in Salisbury, N.C., began building a Zenith CH 750 Cruzer at the chapter’s hangar at Rowan County Airport (KRUQ).

Joining the build was John Robinson, the founder of AV84All, a non-profit dedicated to providing access to general aviation airplanes for everyone. The Cruzer will be modified with special controls so that disabled pilots will be able to take flight.

“EAA Chapter 1083 is literally making a dream come true for AV84all,” he said. “Without their help it would take a lot longer to get this project off of the ground. They are making flying for the disabled a reality.”

CH-750. Photo by Jim Koepnick

CH-750. Photo by Jim Koepnick

Officials with the EAA chapter see the project as a win-win.

“When I was first contacted by Zenith about helping John with this special project, I felt it was a great chance to help with one of the most important missions of our chapter — to encourage, educate and promote aviation for all,” said Jack Neubacher, chapter president.

That’s the idea behind AV84All, as well. It was created by Robinson, who learned to fly in 2015 thanks to a scholarship from Able Flight.


Becoming a pilot is something Robinson has wanted to do since he was a child. He describes himself as a “basic kid” who “loved planes and fire engines.”

“I’ve always wanted to fly, but it’s an expensive hobby to undertake,” he said. “Right before I had my accident, I finally had a good job, so I was going to get all my finances squared away and get established and then do my pilot training.”

All that changed after a car accident that resulted in him becoming a quadriplegic. Instead of pursuing a career in law enforcement, he earned a Master’s Degree and taught special education students for a number of years.


He believed that learning to fly was “gone forever,” until a friend told him about Able Flight. He says he “jumped at the chance” to learn to fly and applied for a scholarship. He became part of the Class of 2015, training at Purdue University and earning his wings at a ceremony at AirVenture in Oshkosh.

The whole experience changed his life.

“I knew flying was going to be terrific, but once you’re up there and once you’re by yourself, once I soloed, it was like ‘Holy Moly,” he said. “Let’s be real, life for people in wheelchairs can be pretty boring, there’s not too many exciting things we can do. It was just the best feeling of accomplishment of being able to land and say ‘I didn’t kill myself, that was pretty cool.’ It’s pretty intense.”

After flying sometimes three times a day during his training, it was a bit of a rude awakening when he returned to North Carolina and found that there were no aircraft he could rent. To fly, he had to travel to Atlanta — a four hour drive — to rent an aircraft with special controls from the Hansen Air Group.

That led him to look into building an aircraft that would be available not just for him, but all disabled people, to fly. He admits the project has a bit of a selfish element to it.

“I’m not going to sit here and say ‘I’m just so altruistic, I just want to give back,’” he said. “Once it’s done, there’s going to be a plane there for me to fly.”


The plane, which will be based at KRUQ, will be available to anyone to rent, once it’s complete, which Robinson estimates will be in about a year.

Charles Stites, the executive director of Able Flight, is optimistic about the opportunities this project will establish for people with disabilities.

“It’s wonderful to see this project come together, not as an Able Flight project, but as an initiative of someone who has been through our program,” he said. “And it’s especially gratifying that Zenith Aircraft, a company that also supports Able Flight, has generously chosen to  work with EAA Chapter 1083 to help make this possible. I am hopeful that the success of this project will inspire similar efforts throughout the country.”


The project wouldn’t have taken off without the support of Zenith Aircraft President Sebastien Heintz, Robinson acknowledges.

“When I asked Mr. Heintz if he was willing to work with me, he generously agreed,” he said. “When it comes to the part of making adaptable controls he was very willing to do whatever it took to make this a reality.”

Zenith Aircraft will provide an engineering review to help customize the Zenith CH 750 Cruzer to better fit the needs of the pilots with disabilities involved in this project.

“One of the wonderful things about experimental amateur built airplanes is they can be fully customized by the builder to make it one of a kind,” Heintz said. “The new EAA Maker Edition of SolidWorks is a tool that will be used for the customization of the needed hand controls for this group build project. This computer-aided design software offers a huge advantage to the owner/builder/pilot when building their own aircraft, and especially for those who have a specific purpose in mind.”

Also instrumental in the project’s success is Viking Aircraft Engines, who Robinson said called him “out of the blue” and donated an entire firewall forward package for the plane. “I was blown away,” he said.

The next big expense will be avionics, he noted.


Meanwhile, work has begun on the first kit, the tail of the airplane.

“I didn’t get the whole plane at once, I got components,” he said.

Once the plane is complete, Robinson has other dreams for the non-profit AV84All, including a ground school, discovery flights, flight training, simulator sessions and more.

But first they need to complete the Cruzer. And while he’s a bit reluctant to ask, that will require further donations.

“It’s a sad fact, but the number one need is donations,” he said. “It seems that money is what gets things done here.”

Donations can be made on the group’s Facebook page and at All donations are tax-deductible.

ECi Cylinder AD takes effect Sept. 15


The FAA has issued its final rule on the controversial airworthiness directive that will require the replacement of cylinders on 6,200 high-displacement Continental engines. It takes effect on Sept. 15. The AD, which scraps thousands of aftermarket cylinders made by ECi, was initially proposed in 2013 for 520, 550 and some 470 model Continentals that had ECi cylinders installed. The agency said there were too many reports of cracks and cylinder head separations involving the cylinders and wanted all of them sold between September of 2002 and June of 2009 replaced.

The AD caused a storm of protest from owners, engine shops and manufacturers and prompted a long consultation process by the FAA. Even the NTSB opposed the scope and breadth of the AD. In the end, after several modifications, the agency has determined that the 6,200 engines will need all their cylinders replaced at a total cost of $88.5 million for U.S. owners, or about $11,520 per engine. It determined that a manufacturing defect is the root cause of the issues and that adding engine monitors or schooling pilots in correct operation of the engines won’t be enough. There are also thousands of affected engines in other countries and normal practice is for other jurisdictions to adopt ADs like this.

There is a range of application for the AD, but in general no one with the cylinders will be able to fly more than 320 hours before they have to be replaced and no one will be able get more than 1,160 hours out of them. The cylinders cannot be overhauled or installed in other engines. They have to be scrapped. AOPA, which has fought the AD on the grounds that the number of failures (82) is not enough to warrant such widespread pain, says that now that the rule has been finalized, it will concentrate on pressing alternative means of compliance.

Continental Motors had a beef with the wording in the AD. Continental bought the parent company of ECi (Danbury Aerospace) last year, six years after the last affected cylinder was made, but the FAA references Continental in the AD. “Continental Motors was never involved in the design, production, or distribution of the cylinders affected by this AD,” Continental said in a news release.  “After the acquisition of the assets of Danbury Aerospace, Continental Motors terminated the production of ECi style cylinders for Continental Motors engines, offering its customers genuine Continental Motors Cylinders from its Mobile factory.”

Verona-based Contrail Aviation Support Inc. purchased by Air T Inc. of North Carolina

Contrail Aviation Support Inc. of Verona has been acquired by Air T Inc. of Maiden, N.C.

Contrail is a global supplier of surplus and aftermarket commercial jet engine components, which employs 10 people, who will remain with the company. Air T is a diversified holding company, which focuses on overnight air cargo, aviation ground equipment sales and aviation ground support services.

Honda Aero Breaks Ground on Expansion of Burlington Facility

Honda Aero, Inc. (HAI) adds to its capability to produce world-class light-jet engines as well as top-flight maintenance and service, as it breaks ground on a new $21 million, 50,000-square foot facility expansion on its Burlington, North Carolina campus. The addition is expected to create 20 to 30 new jobs over the next few years.

HAI expects to complete the facility by early 2017, which will allow it to expand its manufacturing flexibility and production capability for the HF120 light-jet engine as well as any future projects.


“Honda Aero is very excited to expand upon the strong foundation we have established in North Carolina and increase our production capabilities,” said Honda Aero President Atsukuni Waragai. “This facility will give us increased flexibility and capacity to continue providing the very best products and services for our customers.”

HAI currently produces the HF120 engine for GE Honda Aero Engines, LLC, building and servicing the engine that powers the HondaJet at its Burlington facility.  HAI received its Production Certificate from the Federal Aviation Administration on March 17, 2015. Equipped with the HF120 engine, the HondaJet began delivery in December 2015. The HF120 is also available for other airframe applications.

HAI is the official Maintenance Repair and Overhaul facility for the HF120 engine, and features a state-of-the-art test cell, repair and overhaul along with parts warehousing.

“In addition to being an important day for our business, this is another big step for our Honda Aero associates, as we continue to grow and mature our aviation manufacturing capabilities in Burlington,” said Tony Brandewie, vice president of Honda Aero. “As the footprint of our operation expands, so does our partnership with the local community, especially with the Burlington-Alamance Airport Authority which has been instrumental in supporting our business.”

About Honda Aero, Inc.

Honda Aero, Inc. (HAI) conducts parts procurement, assembly and testing of jet engines at its 82,000-square-foot facility, located adjacent to the Burlington-Alamance County regional airport in Burlington, North Carolina.  HAI also provides engine maintenance and overhaul services for its customers at its Burlington facility.

About GE Honda Aero Engines

GE Honda Aero Engines, LLC is a 50/50 joint venture between GE and Honda and is based in Cincinnati, Ohio. The joint company integrates the resources of GE Aviation and Honda Aero, Inc., a Honda subsidiary established to manage its aviation engine business.

About Honda in North America

Honda established operations in America in 1959 and now employs more than 40,000 associates in its North American sales, R&D and manufacturing operations with total capital investment in North America exceeding $22 billion. Based on its longstanding commitment to “build products close to the customer,” Honda operates 18 major manufacturing facilities in North America producing a wide range of Honda and Acura automobiles, automobile engines and transmissions, Honda all-terrain vehicles, power equipment products, such as lawn mowers, mini-tillers and general purpose engines, and the HondaJet advanced light jet. Honda also operates 14 major research and development centers in the U.S. with the capacity to fully design, develop and engineer many of the products Honda produces in North America.


HAECO Americas Receives CAAC Certification

HAECO Americas Airframe Services Repair Station, located at the Piedmont Triad Airport in Greensboro, North Carolina, USA, has received certification from the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) to perform A, B and C checks on Chinese-registered Boeing 757 aircraft. Additionally, the CAAC approval, under section CCAR-145R2, authorizes HAECO Americas to perform passenger-to-freighter conversions in accordance with Validation of Supplemental Type Certificate (VSTC) 141 on Boeing 757 series aircraft.

Jim Sokol, president MRO Services of HAECO Americas, said, “We are proud to announce that through diligent, collaborative efforts with our Chinese partners and the CAAC, HAECO Americas now joins a selected group of companies that can support customers with this authority. HAECO Americas looks forward to working closely with the CAAC to facilitate transitioning converted aircraft into China and supporting our customers with a global network of approved maintenance facilities.”

This certification complements the existing FAA and EASA certificates held by HAECO Americas Airframe Services. It permits HAECO Americas to pursue additional ratings in the future through coordination with the CAAC.

About HAECO Americas

A wholly-owned subsidiary of the HAECO Group, HAECO Americas (formerly TIMCO Aviation Services) supports global aircraft operators and owners with comprehensive aircraft care services including base maintenance from three multi-hangar locations, engine MRO and line maintenance support across the U.S. The company’s HAECO Cabin Solutions division provides interiors design, engineering, certification and cabin reconfiguration services, as well as manufactured products including passenger seating, structures, galleys and lavatories. HAECO Americas’ website:

The real cost of a cheap annual


You’ve found a really cheap IA who is going to complete the annual inspection on your Cessna 172 for about $600 cash. You think it’s a great deal!

He will point out a few things you might need and some ADs that are due. Then he will kick the tires, pull on the wings, and in three days you will be flying again.

You have a fresh annual and “Joe Inspector” has new money in his pocket.

Chris Collins

Chris Collins

This scenario plays out in thousands of small aircraft shops throughout the country every year.

While some aircraft owners frequent this type of service, it is a very dangerous way to maintain your aircraft. That’s right, I said AIRCRAFT!

Your pride and joy, the thing you dreamed about having as a kid! Hell, you begged your wife to take out a 40-year loan for it, and this is how you are going treat it?

First things first, I am in no way condoning people who choose to conduct business this way or the customers who choose to maintain their aircraft in this manner.

The real question here is why? Why would you want to cut corners? Is it just to save a few bucks? I don’t believe this is a good enough answer.

Photo by Greg L. Davis

Photo by Greg L. Davis

The next time you’re heading to the ramp to go on a weekend trip with your wife or grandkids, look at them and ask yourself, “What if something happened in flight that was a direct cause of slacked maintenance?”

We all know that accidents happen, but wouldn’t you want to be absolutely sure that you did everything you could to prevent it?

Who is responsible for the damages when your aircraft loses control and skids into a building, destroying personal property — or worse, killing someone?

The truth is the real cost of that cheap annual can’t be counted.

Photo by Greg L. Davis

Photo by Greg L. Davis

Let’s be clear: There are some great IAs out there who do good maintenance at a fair price, but there are some who cut corners.

Do yourself a favor and find a reliable and reasonable repair station. Most repair stations will be higher in price initially, but if they continue to service your aircraft each year, they will get a baseline for what needs to be repaired and what can wait.

Repair stations are very thorough with regards to inspections and you can feel at ease knowing that your aircraft is receiving top level maintenance.

Windecker Aircraft embarks on new aircraft design in Mooresville

General Aviation News

Windecker Aircraft’s American R&D facility will follow up the successful restoration of a 1969 Windecker Eagle with a clean sheet design for a new composite, high performance, single engine, low wing, four-seat aircraft.

Windecker Eagle

The design will utilize technologies and materials that have evolved or been developed since the Windecker Eagle was certified in the late 1960s, according to company officials..

Windecker John RonczJohn Roncz, an aerodynamicist, will serve as chief designer on the project.

The American team will be responsible for all of the design elements, analysis, initial tooling and prototypes. The certification process will be tailored for global access to markets around the world, utilizing the latest panel technologies, powerplant options and ergonomic refinements, according to company officials.

Windecker China, which is currently preparing to manufacture the original Eagle for distribution in China, will add the new design to its production line when it receives a Type Certificate.

Manufacturing facilities will also be developed in North America for production of the new design.

Aviation contractor to move 80 workers from Winston-Salem to larger Greensboro facility

Piedmont Aviation Component Services will move as many as 80 employees from a 35,000-square-foot space at Smith Reynolds Airport in Winston-Salem to a facility that is more than twice that size in Greensboro.

The move from 3817 N. Liberty St. will occur by the first part of the second quarter, said Todd Schwarz, president of the company, which specializes in maintenance and repair services for regional aircraft.

He said the firm has been upfitting a leased 80,000-square-foot space at 7102 Cessna Drive in Greensboro to accommodate growth for its landing gear, machining and electroplating services.

“We needed a larger facility,” Schwarz said. “We are probably going to easily occupy 60,000 (square feet) of it and have 20,000 for expansion.”

The company will vacate the Winston-Salem facility on Liberty Street after hiring “quite a few (employees) over the last year-and-a-half,” he said.

A subsidiary of TAT Technologies in Israel, Piedmont Aviation Component Services is an Federal Aviation Administration-certified repair station.

Schwarz said the company will maintain its auxiliary power unit engine shop in Kernersville, where about 65 employees work.

The company moved key operations to the Smith Reynolds Airport facility in 2013 to improve turnaround times for customers instead of shuttling parts back and forth from Kernersville to Winston-Salem.