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  #1  
Old 07-06-2006, 10:24 AM
wvshoem wvshoem is offline
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Default Pitot Heat - Why the controversy???

Okay – I’m a little surprised. I didn’t realize there was controversy around pitot heat. I didn’t want to further muddle Dust’s plane day thread, so I moved my question here.

I plan on flying my Long EZ in IMC when necessary so was automatically going to add pitot heat. I already have the switch engraved and ready to install (just have to lay out the several hundred dollars for the actual pitot tube).

It was my training and now my habit to turn on the pitot heat before entering the clouds – always – regardless of temperature. If I’m launching into 400 foot overcast (or the like), it’s turned on during run-up.

Please excuse my ignorance on the subject, but this is my practice because I was told to do it that way. I was under the impression that the heat was not only for ice, but also to help keep visible moisture out of the system. Now that I’ve read several posts, that doesn’t seem to be the case.

In my 21 years of flying GA airplanes, I’ve probably picked up ice a total of five times (probably more, but at least five times that warranted doing something about it) and I have flown in a lot of actual. I am conservative, however, and pay very close attention to forecasts (generally terrible when it comes to icing) and get all the PIREPS I can before launching. ADDS digital weather is another great resource.

All that being said, and the fact that I thought I had my mind made up, what are the negatives of installing pitot heat? I was a little surprised with the cost, but considered against the overall investment, a few hundred more dollars is no big deal.

William
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  #2  
Old 07-06-2006, 10:35 AM
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wvshoem - I agrees with you. Many if not most builders believe that you should never find yourself in ice, from the many fliers that i have chatted with in michigan, Pitot heat is a conservative choice.

BTW, a year ago I went to the FAA or NTSB web accident data base and looked for Icing accidents.

Could not find any as ALL the icing reports of accidents were caused by Carb icing.

Personally, you could not convince me to put a carb in a plane, that ice bites and bites often
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  #3  
Old 07-06-2006, 10:42 AM
wvshoem wvshoem is offline
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Well, I have a carburetor on my little O235, so I'll be heating that too.
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  #4  
Old 07-06-2006, 10:51 AM
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don't know the availability of fuel injection for your engine and I knows that it would be a PIA to install, but, a review of the accidents on Carb Icing is very eye opening.

I would guess, only a wild guess, that allot of the carb icing problems come from dry climate fliers going to damp areas.

when i took flight lessons in Scottsdale Arizona they chided me for carb heat in the pattern, habits that save your butt in michigan, simply not taught in the Arizona desert.
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  #5  
Old 07-06-2006, 11:01 AM
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Yes John - you can fly without a pitot and rely on the flying characteristics that you are used to in your plane, but, the problem as I see it, with ice on the flying and other surfaces, the flying characteristics of your plane become different than you are used to.

I'm conservative, or at least I think I am conservative, I'll be putting a heated pitot on.
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  #6  
Old 07-06-2006, 11:04 AM
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Save $$$$ Use the Cessna pitot heater element and make your own.
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  #7  
Old 07-06-2006, 12:24 PM
Wayne Hicks Wayne Hicks is offline
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Here's the deal:

(1) Part 23 lists the equipment requirements, standards, and other stuff for what a standard aircraft must have.

(2) For standard aircraft, a heated pitot tube is required if it's going to be flown IFR.

(3) Part 23 doesn't apply to experimentals. Only Part 91.205 does.

(4) Part 91.205 DOESN'T LIST a heated pitot tube as a necessary element required for IFR flight. It only lists the instrument panel gyros, instrumentation, and radios required in addition to the VFR equipment needed.

(5) Some canard flyers who are high time IFR flyers or who have actual icing experiences have said that the canard will ice up and fall out of the sky long before the pitot tube ices up. Should you trust that? I trust that they feel that, but I would still fly with a heated pitot tube if I were flying IFR.

(6) It is my personal opinion that some canard builders who intend to fly IFR don't install heated pitot tubes because (a) heated pitots draw alot of power and some builder don't have alternators big enough to drive ship's power; and (b) an off-the-shelf pitot tube is too expensive; and (c) Part 91.205 doesn't require it.

I asked my FSDO rep about the experimental's need to have a heated pitot tube for IFR. He said:

(7) If you keep your mouth shut and don't tell me anything other than "Day VFR unless properly equipped," I'll sign you off without a heated pitot tube.

(8) If you offer up that you intend to fly IFR, I'm going to want to see a heated pitot tube on your plane. If you don't have one, I WON'T sign you off until you do. (Reminder: An Inspector is totally within his/her right to use Part 43 and Part 23 to establish his/hre comfort level with "best practices and methods.")
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  #8  
Old 07-06-2006, 10:15 PM
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Quote:
what are the negatives of installing pitot heat?
As far as I know, only the cost, minimum weight gain and the power draw. It may be true that you'll never use it and, of course, icing in canards is generally to be avoided. That said, there's no real reason not to install one on an IFR bound plane, and every reason to avoid the potential "downfall".

BTW - I wasn't arguing against heated pitots; I'll install one myself if I ever get around to getting the rating. I was merely reacting to the finality of the decision as presented. The old "That's just the way that it is" syndrome. I make it a point to always be open to new information for or against anything.
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  #9  
Old 07-06-2006, 11:45 PM
Kraig Kraig is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by John Slade
I make it a point to always be open to new information for or against anything.
Thats what we love about you John.

Kraig
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  #10  
Old 07-06-2006, 11:49 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by John Slade
I make it a point to always be open to new information for or against anything.
Well, I strongly disagree with that statement! heh heh heh I beeen around too long to agree with you on that one.

I am always open to new ideas.
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dust

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  #11  
Old 07-07-2006, 12:52 AM
wvshoem wvshoem is offline
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Had a rare event here in the Denver area today. As all of you were responding to my earlier post (thanks BTW) I was out flying IMC in my 235. I tried something for the first time ever - I didn't turn on the pitot heat before I entered the clouds. I'm not kidding when I say it was physically hard not to do. I shot four ILS approaches (two at COS, one at APA and one at BJC). Guess what... nothing happened. OAT was sixty degrees or warmer, so obviously no ice - just lots of water. Airspeed indicator worked just fine.

So, I guess I proved to myself that pitot heat is for icing only and not for liquid water as well as I had thought.

Still think I will install it just in case. Especially in light of Wayne's comments (thanks Wayne for the facts). Hate the cost and haven't figured out how to insulate it as to not melt the airplane. Based on my history and the current retail cost it will cost me about $100 each of the six times I turn it on over the next 20 years. Of course, how much might it cost not to turn it on???
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  #12  
Old 07-07-2006, 02:20 AM
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Last time I flew IFR in warm wet conditions, years ago down between Lamar and Pueblo probably in the summer monsoons, I thought my pitot-static instruments were acting funny due to water in the system. I don't know what made me do it but I pumped on the relief valve a few times "to clear the water out". I probably just sucked some in. Things seemed to behave better but I got a call from ATC about my altitude and I think he was about to violate me for an altitude deviation, although my indicated altitude was right on. He just told me to get back on altitude and I didn't want to get in a discussion about trying to "pump the system". I think I just said 'roj' and shrugged my shoulders. Would pitot heat help that? I don't remember reading anything on that.
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  #13  
Old 07-07-2006, 09:01 AM
Wayne Hicks Wayne Hicks is offline
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There are a number of options:

(1) One is to make a heated pitot tube using a cartridge heater element inside a tube like James Redmon did for his Berkut. He also used a phenolic collar to thermally protect the surrounding fiberglass.

(2) Some Cozy builders and alot of Velocity builders buy the generic L-shaped heated pitot tube from Spruce and mount it onto the side of the fuselage under the canard. Again, they mount it on a phenolic pad to isolate the heat from the fuselage skin.

(3) There are non-heated pitot tubes that you can make that are icing "resistant". It involves a small tube with a pin-sized opening recessed inside a larger tube with a larger opening. The CSA newsletter printed the how-to's with pictures several years ago.

As for "how critical is a pitot tube?" Well, our airplanes don't stall. And I'll have three other independent GPS sources for airspeed. So personally, I'm not worried about a frozen pitot tube. I'd only worry about the canard losing lift because of ice build-up.
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Last edited by Wayne Hicks : 07-07-2006 at 10:28 AM.
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  #14  
Old 07-07-2006, 10:29 AM
rutanfan rutanfan is offline
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This might be a little off topic... okay a lot... but I just finished machining a heated pitot tube ala Berkut. Does anyone know where I can get a few small parts like these anodized? All the local places do large lots but not a single small part.

Regards.
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  #15  
Old 07-07-2006, 11:30 AM
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Quote:
As for "how critical is a pitot tube?" Well, our airplanes don't stall. And I'll have three other independent GPS sources for airspeed. So personally, I'm not worried about a frozen pitot tube. I'd only worry about the canard losing lift because of ice build-up.
I didn't know a GPS can give you air speed. Are you implying your canard will fall before your pitot tells you you're flying too slow?
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