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REFLECTOR: fuel shutoff and other safety



This is just my rambling, so take it or leave it as always:

I tend to take the 80/20 approach to aviation safety.  By that I mean
that 80% of the accidents are caused by 20% of the potential causes of
accidents.  It is my philosophy that one should put most resources into
correcting the significant 20%.
As far as I can tell, the 20% consists mainly of the ridiculously
obvious causes, and ones which can mostly be easily controlled.  For
example, the year in, year out, number one cause of accidents is the VFR
pilot flying into IMC, and then losing it.  Another cause which
continues to happen over and over is the pilot who runs out of fuel. 
These two account for far more deaths than engine fires or electrical
failures.
My point here is that, again in my opinion, you should build a solid
plane, check and recheck your installation (not just annually), then
spend a good deal of time on your piloting skills.  If you don't have an
instrument rating, you should... even if you don't plan to fly IFR.  You
should practice flying IMC in your airplane.  You should spend a lot of
time on pre-flight planning, then be more than willing to drive 8 hours
two weekends in row if the weather sucks (I had to do that last fall).

Sure, Simon's incident was a mechanical failure he couldn't have seen,
but then Simon is fine (okay, so his airplane isn't, but it can be
repaired or even replace).  But most other velocity accidents that we
read about were actually pretty simple.  A prop which someone probably
should have known was dangerous, trying to do acrobatics in a plane not
designed for it, not steering well clear of a vortex.  

For this reason, I built a plane old fixed gear, wooden prop airplane.
Sure, it is a little slower, and nowhere near as fancy as the RGs with
constant speed props, but it amazes me how simple it all is.  I do have
my instrument rating, and I practice in my plane.  I take the cowling
off all the time to "take a look under the hood," and take off my nose
covers, the battery and the large access hatch, and look around.  About
the only thing I do on the annual in addition to normal is a compression
check, and grease the wheel bearings.

I think that if you spend your time doing these things, your chances of
an in-flight fire or other mechanical failure which causes and accident
are very, very minimal.

So, that's my 2 cents worth.  I'll be interested to see what posts
follow this one.

-- 
Bob Ginsberg

Big Ape Gyms - Velocity 173