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.......
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.
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.
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!
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".
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!
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.
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.
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 " ...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!
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"....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?
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.
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.