What I do before takeoff when switching on the AUTO IGN is calling '2 on' after having checked the advisory lights "Ignition" (green). Then I increase power till "2 off" and I do not elease the brakes before that 2 off call - props have spun to full RPM by then.... the igniton works continously below 400 ft/lbs of torque... This should prevent the inadvertent selecting of the starters.
Last edited by His dudeness; 2nd Aug 2012 at 21:09.
Absolutely Dude.. The checklist calls for Auto-Ign to be on as part of the final items.. there's no requirement and no reason to turn them off until after landing. They're only 'armed' not sitting there wearing themselves out so it's difficult to see why anyone would need to play around with them in the air.
That is what I had always seen and done, both in TR training and company SOPs. However on the French report kirkbymoorside linked to it suggested that the company's SOP was to use them only in icing conditions (did not mention heavy rain). Seems odd to me; there is no cost to having them on 'AUTO' in flight.
I find it hard to believe that the starter-gen switches were both left in the start position, as there are two bright amber lights top left and right of the annunciation panel, which we should be checking a dozen times before takeoff (if a run-up is completed before departure).
Depending on the serial number of the aircraft it may have electric, chain driven gear, or electro-hydraulic gear, the procedures for emergency extension are different, and a gotcha if you are used to one, more so than the other.
Was the aircraft equipped with a Ni-Cad battery, or the more common lead acid?
Inverters need DC to turn into AC, so that would account for the compass and charts comment (no alternators). AC drives a lot of systems, such as instruments, autopilot, EFIS displays etc., and can be very distracting.
I find it hard to believe that the starter-gen switches were both left in the start position, as there are two bright amber lights top left and right of the annunciation panel, which we should be checking a dozen times before takeoff
I would agree, except for having heard of two cases now where it occurred. I do think that the French aircraft might have had poor SOPs as a contributing factor, if they were switching auto ignition on in flight, but we don't know the SOPs for this operation.
The aircraft was BB-1473, so did have electro-hydraulic gear.
Any ideas, what could cause a "major electrical system failure" on a King Air 200?
A scenario often presented in training is the blown current limiter, followed by loss of a generator - a multiple failure, but has occurred in the past. In that scenario, the battery supplies power to one generator bus, which may only last so long before a battery charge annunciation occurs with a Ni-Cad battery installed. The battery charge light would be a cause for alarm, due to the potential of a thermal runaway.
Loss of an inverter, and not following the memory item, would cause a loss of AC. AC powers EFIS instruments, autopilot, gyros and avionics. This in of itself wouldn't lead to a gear issue, but significantly increases the workload of the crew. When I'm rushed, I'm more likely to make mistakes, or omissions.
SOPs.. Switching auto ignition on or off in flight is not really a sign of poor SOPs - although I'm not at all familiar to the reference made. I flew for a King Air operator that insisted the auto ignitions be turned off during the climb checklist, and turned back on during the before landing checklist. Auto ignitions were to be turned on in icing conditions, turbulence or wind-shear, and moderate or heavier precipitation. The theory was that too many ignitor-boxes had been replaced from them being left on (all the time), with the power being brought to idle etc., so the operator wrote their SOP as above. Also, the manufacturer doesn't require the auto ignitions be on during the entire flight, on the King Air 200 and earlier models. The operator has a fleet of King Airs, of all types, heavily used (800-1200 hours per year per airframe) and has been in business for about 30 years. That was part of their SOP, and everyone followed them.
Recently, however, I have been flying with an operator that leaves them on during the entire flight, and doesn't care for the cost of replacing them if they fail, as the owner can well afford the aircraft, or to charter an aircraft if need be and the King Air is lightly used. One less checklist item keeps it simple, so I'm all for that.
What difference would it make turning the auto-ignition off during climb and back to auto before landing?
It would be unusual surely to have torque below 400 lb.ft. in that part of the flight, so they would not be doing anything. All you are doing is operating the switches more, shortening the life of the switches and increasing the chance of doing what might have been the cause of two serious incidents.