View Full Version : Low oil rant


tegwin
11th Mar 2008, 11:26
Went to fly a club R-22 at the weekend....the first thing I did was check the engine oil...Im so glad I did!..

There was just under 1 quart of oil left in the engine and it was a nice black treacle colour...

I could quite easily have refilled the engine and flown off, but im just not happy with the fact that the engine could have overheater and been under lubricated....So I refused the aicraft right out!

The thing that really winds me up is that these aircraft are used pretty much every day for short training flights, I believe the minimum oil capacity for flight is 4 Quarts? (Having a blonde moment...the exact figure is writen on my kneeboard).....So the previous PIC obviously had not topped up the oil before his flight, infact, he proberably didnt even check it, otherwise it would not have been so low when I went to fly the thing....

On principle I make sure that the aircraft is always FULL of engine oil before I lift....It seems like good practice...so why cant the other, perhaps more experienced pilots do the same.......:mad::mad::ugh:



VfrpilotPB/2
11th Mar 2008, 11:39
Teg,

Look at the Techlog and see who last flew it, and then ask them why they left a death trap for the next SFH pilot, then ask for the Cheif Pilot who is in charge, give them a hard time , for that would have become your fault had things gone quiet when you were up in the air. NEVER rely on the last pilot, as you have seen he/she was not very good at what they should be.:ugh:

Peter R-b

IanHud
11th Mar 2008, 11:41
There's just no excuse for that ! Not sure I would fly that one again at least until it has been for maintenance.

I'm lucky enough that I'm an early riser so all through my training I was 1st to fly - so I got into a habit of doing a full check everytime. Now I can't get out of the habit, it doesn't take that long.

You didn't mean really FULL did you ? There is a max quantity as well, any more and it spews out (I was told), but I'm sure you knew that.

Has your CFI taken any action ?

nodrama
11th Mar 2008, 11:53
So what was the outcome to this? You could be flying that Robo next weekend....

I realise your post was just a rant and share of experience, but did you bring the low/ dirty oil to the attention of the right people so that it got the attention it warranted?

firebird_uk
11th Mar 2008, 11:58
Is the 22 owned by the club or leased back to them?

As someone who leases a machine back to a training organisation I'd sure want to know if oil checks were being ignored by SFHs, students and instructors. It's unlikely to have burnt that much in one day so it shows a systematic failure.

When the engine fails prematurely it's not the flying club that'll have to pick up the tab, but that doen't excuse them from a duty of care.

Get the owner's details off of the CAA website and drop them a line. That'll make the smelly stuff hit the fan!

IanHud
11th Mar 2008, 12:10
Should tegwin be asked to publish the registration ? or at least PM it to anyone who asks for it ?

Who of us would like to take that R22 up, at least not until its been for a maintenance check ?

I don't believe that it is managed by the company I SFH from (they are just too professional and have too many checks / processes in place) but ........ stranger things have happened and I for one would preffer to be "safer than sorry".

Flyin'ematlast
11th Mar 2008, 12:35
Quote: "Should tegwin be asked to publish the registration ? or at least PM it to anyone who asks for it ?

Who of us would like to take that R22 up, at least not until its been for a maintenance check ?"

Agreed! :eek:

I would want to know if it were one of the R22's that I SFH. Even just the airfield it flys from or the region of the country would give us a clue whether to ask questions of our operators.

Ian.

tegwin
11th Mar 2008, 12:57
I am not going to post the aircraft number at the moment as it would put me in the wrong books with the company....

The aircraft is registered to the company and they use it for SFH and flight training...

I left a note on the techlog that I was unhappy about it, but dont know what happened...Proberably nothing...

And yes, I dont fill the engine with oil until its overflowing....that would be stooopid!!!!!


Do you think its worth me phoning up to complain?

Having seen this, and a couple of other issues that are not dealt with properly (over torquing, dodgy fuel guages etc), I have little faith in their aircraft, but have no choice!....Cant afford my own chopper....it just means that whenever I fly, im always ready for things to go quiet!

rotorcraig
11th Mar 2008, 13:14
Do you think its worth me phoning up to complain?
Definitely! Tell them you left a note in the log and are calling to ask what came of it.

RC

Heliringer
11th Mar 2008, 13:14
Top it up, ground run it, hover it. Check it's all normal temps, feel, sounds etc. then shut it down and do an oil and filter change.

Check for metal, if you can read part numbers on any metal found don't fly it.

If normal fill it back up and fly it as normal
Cheers

nodrama
11th Mar 2008, 13:22
If you had put an entry in the Tech Log, rather than a note on the tech log, something would have to get done.

Even if it didn't encourage a maintenance check, there would be a record for future reference, especially if it happened again. That would hopefully trigger an engineer to suspect there might be a mechanical cause.

I appreciate that snagging an aircraft can have other implications (non-availability, no engineer on site, disrupting the training programme, upsetting the engineer ('cos I am one), upsetting the instructor etc) but you obviously feel strongly about the occurance and have concerns or else you wouldn't have posted.

FH1100 Pilot
11th Mar 2008, 13:59
There may be some misconceptions here. The amount of oil in the crankcase or sump has *no* relation to whether that engine was overheated or underlubricated. As long as there is a sufficient supply of oil to the pump to ensure proper oil pressure, then everything is cool, no pun intended. Having excess oil in the sump gives you no benefit other than to keep the oil pump supplies as oil gets consumed.

Neither is black oil a sign of anything dire. Between oil changes, piston engine oil can get quite black, especially as the engine accumulates time toward overhaul. In a worst-case scenario, the engine in the original post may have high total-time and coincidentally be coming up on a scheduled oil change. It would not necessarily be cause for concern to me.

Then too, some engines can burn quite a lot of oil and still be within "specs." I forget whether it's Lycoming or Continental that doesn't even publish a maximum consumption limit. So it's conceivable that the previous pilot had an adequate supply when he took off. What was the length of the previous flight period? When was oil last added to the engine?

We all like to have our self-righteous rants, especially when we can point out the failings of other pilots. But truly and simply, this is why we do preflight inspections. You cannot say, "I'm glad I did!" about a preflight; it is your responsibility and duty and is not optional. There is a reason we do post-flight inspections too. If you're not doing it, checking the oil after you land is a smart idea.

The aircraft is very likely not an unairworthy timebomb. Or maybe it is, if it has that much blow-by and a very high consumption. Don't freak out over it, just bring the oil up to the proper level for your flight and make a note in the maintenance log of the amount added. Have a calm word with the head guy of the outfit and move on.

TorqueStripe
11th Mar 2008, 14:06
So the previous PIC obviously had not topped up the oil before his flight, infact, he proberably didnt even check it

While this is a possible scenario, I am surprised it is the first thing that came to your mind, especially as it takes much more than a short training flight to burn a minimum of 3 quarts of oil in a R22.

If I were flying a machine, that like you say is often used for short training flights, and found the oil to be 3 quarts below minimum, I first would suspect an oil leak that occured during the last flight and most definitely would take appropriate action beyond refilling/writing a note (unless it was maybe hired to one customer for a longer period of time, eg 10hours or so)

IIRC, Lycoming says in the engine manual that the minimum oil level is 1 quart, but the flight manual obviously has priority over it and in there it indeed says 4 quarts.

VfrpilotPB/2
11th Mar 2008, 15:14
Teg,

I cannot believe what you have posted, you say you have no choice, you owe yourself and your family the duty of care not to bury yourself in the brown stuff, that is surely what will happen if you continue with the attitude of " I have no Choice " :eek:...your choice is "Spend your time and money at some other well run place" that way you will see that you do have a choice!:=

Vfrpilotpb/2
Peter R-B

tegwin
11th Mar 2008, 17:04
Phoned them and had a chat...The AC has 11 hours left on it before its 100hr, so the oil is expected to be black....which is understandable....(although running with low oil will make it turn black quicker!)

He suspects that the previous pilot didnt check the oil, because "its a self fly hire machine, people just jump in and go":eek:....if thats the attitude of some of the pilots there, im not so sure I want to continue using these aircraft!

He did rather reluctantly agree to look into it tomorow though which is nice of him


Am I blowing this out of proportion?....Should I just have topped up the oil and forgotten about it?

nodrama
11th Mar 2008, 18:17
No. How does it go?......"Never assume, check".

slowrotor
11th Mar 2008, 18:26
On some engines, checking the oil dipstick without wiping it clean first will show much more oil than what you really have in the engine. This may seem obvious to old timers but I got lazy and found it really makes a difference.
The oil creeps up the dipstick overnight. On my Limbach engine it can be off a full quart and with just 2.5quarts... it matters.

Old Skool
11th Mar 2008, 18:27
No, you still have that money to spend on another day or on another chariot, without thinking about the engine oil for the whole flight.

g-mady
11th Mar 2008, 18:54
I always had an issue with not wiping the dipstick to check the level.
But im fine if its 4q or above,

If it was down below say 3 quartz i would definatly check as the cold oil sticks to the stick and not giving the accurate reading.

MADY

helonorth
11th Mar 2008, 18:57
I would be leery of flying it. An air cooled engine relies on the oil for a lot
of it's cooling. I have never flown a helicopter that had that small amount
of oil in it, so I can't say at what level it would get hot, but less than a
quart! Who knows, maybe the last pilot did fill it up and there is something
wrong with the engine. An engine run low on oil (especially one that runs
at high RPMs) will damage the engine. I think we can all agree on that.
I do not think you overreacted. From the response you got from the
operator, I would go somewhere else.

the beater
11th Mar 2008, 18:59
Are you really saying that they don't change the oil for 100hrs? I thought it was 50 max, whilst most operators change it at twenty five.

md 600 driver
11th Mar 2008, 19:00
a few questions for my own knowledge bank

should a robbo with 11 hour to next 100 hr check have black treacle oil anyway ?

how often is oil changed in a robbo and is it always changed at 100 hrs ?

whatis the oil consuption of a robbo?

steve

g-mady
11th Mar 2008, 19:02
agreed - youd didnt assume that the previous flyers had checked it and filled it and that there is a problem???

A wiper seal going would use lots of oil in the last flight but not really give any indication in flight.

Any tiny water droplets in the oil???

Worrying that your first thought was that the instructors/SFH's simply hadn't look!!!!!!!!

MADY

Bravo73
11th Mar 2008, 19:19
Worrying that your first thought was that the instructors/SFH's simply hadn't look!!!!!!!!

To be brutally honest, my first thought probably would've also have been human error (rather than mechanical failure.)

Practice Auto 3,2,1
11th Mar 2008, 20:00
MD600:

should a robbo with 11 hour to next 100 hr check have black treacle oil anyway ?

No, but the oil does tend to darken fairly quickly. But without a picture of said oil its difficult tell what state this particular engines oil was in.

how often is oil changed in a robbo and is it always changed at 100 hrs ?

At my place every 25 hours i.e. on the 100Hr Insp, then a 25 hourly, then at the 50Hr Insp and then again at 25Hrs (75 post 100Hr)

what is the oil consumption of a robbo?

Couldn't really tell you. But in my experience R44 II's like to be on 7 qts (dipstick minimum) and will happily stay there for a good few hours. R44 I's sit happily at around 8 and R22's 5Qts. Not really consumption figures, but They are all slightly different.

Hope that helps a tad!

IanHud
11th Mar 2008, 21:22
I have SFH around 8 different R22's in the last three years. I guess I have put a quart in around 1 in every 6 fights.

Quote FH1100 "just bring the oil up to the proper level for your flight and make a note in the maintenance log of the amount added. Have a calm word with the head guy of the outfit and move on."............. I apologise for being insulting, but that has got to be the worst armchair advice I have heard in a long time.

I am not saying this aircraft is unairworthy (I don't know enough of the facts), but by the same token you simply cannot say "The aircraft is very likely not an unairworthy timebomb".

It was 3 quarts below minimum, not recommended, not maximum surely these circumstances deserve investigation before flying ?

There may well be a simple less worrying explanation but on a balance of probability either it is using oil at an abnormally high rate or there has been a systematic failure to maintain (18 24 hours of use without topping up ?). IMHO - either way, filling it up, having a calm word and going off flying is like putting in a request to be an air accident statistic.

500e
11th Mar 2008, 22:04
Are you saying oil was off the stick? if so the engine must have been really low on oil when running previously.
What has drained down will be spread about the innards on start up leaving even less for the oil pump to pick up especially in flight, air cooled engines also use oil as a coolant so there was double reason to worry.
Move on find another SFH, the reply you got if as quoted shows a rather cavalier attitude to your safety.
Personally if I was hiring out the helio I would have a walk round either myself or by the Eng just in case the next hirer was a bit lax & forgot to do what are basic checks.
I don't fly a 22 but is it not a requirement to ch oil as part of pre flight?
And if you say you are worried about an over T as well as other problems why ask you know the answer.:sad:

FH1100 Pilot
12th Mar 2008, 20:09
IanHud:Quote FH1100 "just bring the oil up to the proper level for your flight and make a note in the maintenance log of the amount added. Have a calm word with the head guy of the outfit and move on."............. I apologise for being insulting, but that has got to be the worst armchair advice I have heard in a long time.

I am not saying this aircraft is unairworthy (I don't know enough of the facts), but by the same token you simply cannot say "The aircraft is very likely not an unairworthy timebomb".

It was 3 quarts below minimum, not recommended, not maximum surely these circumstances deserve investigation before flying ?

There may well be a simple less worrying explanation but on a balance of probability either it is using oil at an abnormally high rate or there has been a systematic failure to maintain (18 24 hours of use without topping up ?). IMHO - either way, filling it up, having a calm word and going off flying is like putting in a request to be an air accident statistic.

Gosh, are you guys babies or pilots? Do you really *not* know how oil systems work? Do you really think that oil in the sump helps "cool" the engine? Do you think that low oil level in the sump will cause the engine to "run hot?" Some of you should spend some time with the engineers/mechanics, because it sounds like there are some bad misconceptions going around out there.

Look, we're not talking about 'round-the-world endurance flights here. It's SFH - short local flights. Does the a/c have a big puddle of oil underneath it all the time? Is there obvious evidence of an oil leak? Talk to other pilots who've flown the bird - do any of them report higher than normal oil consumption?

Fill the thing up to max and go flying! Jeez. Is it making power? Is it running well (e.g. smoothly, mag check good)? Are the T&P's within limits? While flying, there are a couple of little gauges...I'm sure the R-22 has them: Oil Pressure and Oil Temperature. You should probably check on them once or twice per flight. Make a flight, keep it short if you're scared. When you land, check the oil. Check the engine for signs of a huge leak.

If you are so terrified that the engine might quit, perhaps helicopter flying is the wrong endeavor for you. If I were flying an R-22, engine failure would be low on my list of worries.

Efirmovich
12th Mar 2008, 20:41
FH1100 Pilot......... Great post, what a wind-up ! Just for a short time I thought you were serious !! :D

E.

helimutt
12th Mar 2008, 21:29
I fly about 20 days a month and never bother checking the engine oil level ever. Even if I haven't flown the a/c for a week or more and it's been flying with someone else.

:=