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Thread: Backup instruments

  1. #1

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    Default Backup instruments

    I've been watching a bunch of YouTube videos, Trent Palmer, and others. They all have the electronic panels, but as far as I can see no backup instruments, I have always been taught, and if you look at any airliner they have backup steam gauges just in case, I am considering having some of I build, still kicking around that idea.

  2. #2

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    Default Re: Backup instruments

    I should have also said,vevery corporate jet with glass cockpits that I have worked on have backup instruments.

  3. #3
    Senior Member
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    Default Re: Backup instruments

    Really not necessary on a VFR Kitfox , even if every instrument should fail (for instance your single EFIS dies) a competent Kitfox pilot should have no problem getting safely on the ground using visual references only, and this event would be a inconvenience (or should be) not an emergency. The Kitfox is not a great platform to make it IFR. Bruce N199CL

  4. #4
    Senior Member efwd's Avatar
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    Default Re: Backup instruments

    if you are considering the reliability of the two systems, what you really have is the EFIS as the backup to your steam gauges.
    Eddie Forward
    Flying
    SS7, 912iS, Garmin G3X

  5. #5
    Senior Member jiott's Avatar
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    Default Re: Backup instruments

    I agree totally with airlina.
    I believe it has been shown that solid state, no moving parts, instruments are far more reliable and long lived that steam gauges; if they don't fail early on, they will probably last a very long time.
    Jim Ott
    Portland, OR
    Kitfox SS7 flying
    Rotax 912ULS

  6. #6

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    Olathe, KS
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    Default Re: Backup instruments

    As a whole, an EFIS is much more reliable than say, a vacuum pump. Depends what failure you are looking for redundancy against.

    If you are worried about power failure, then a TCW Avionics Backup Battery or dual batteries is a redundancy. If its an ADHRS failure, then many systems support dual flight computers, or an additional backup like a Garmin G5 works great. Sometimes failures are not a function of the units, but how they were installed (incorrect wiring or installation placement). Many modern aircraft don't have steam backups anymore (backups are even electronic).

    I'm building a non-Kitfox experimental and plan a solid IFR platform. Dual G3X screens, Dual GSU flight computers, Dual G5s, all backed up with a TCW backup battery and dual alternators. For complete failure, I need to lose 2 alternators, 4 batteries, 4 AHRS sources, or have something catasrophic happen, like a fire. If it gets to that point then the avionics failure just became a lower priority.

    But, fun thing with experimental - do what you want!
    Brad Brensing
    Olathe, KS

  7. #7
    Senior Member Dave S's Avatar
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    Default Re: Backup instruments

    I'd also throw my hat in the ring with airlina. We can each learn to safely handle a Kitfox looking out the window - good skills to have in any airplane.

    Reliability is a crap shoot - IMHO

    The vast majority of airborne failures I have had involved things containing moving electrons and semiconductors. That was true with rental planes I have used and is still true with our kitfox. The 10 year body count of dead electronic stuff on the KF (all which was new when installed) includes strobe transformer, GPS (which was kind enough to wait to die till the manufacturer no longer supported it), connectors for GPS #2 (replaced under warranty) encoder, Ignition modules, ADS-B (which the manufacturer very kindly and responsibly replaced at no cost)

    Vacuum instruments are far more reliable than what powers them ( the pathetic engine driven mechanical pumps)

    Electric gyros can be quite reliable but are dependent on ship's power which can be the weak link

    The most reliable instrument in the cockpit is a plain old whiskey compass. Using it accurately is again a matter of study, and practice.

    I think we can count on our eyes out the window and on the compass for the necessary and most fool proof backup instruments, at least for a Kitfox.
    Dave S
    Kitfox 7 Trigear (Flying since 2009)
    912ULS Warp Drive

    St Paul, MN

  8. #8
    Senior Member PapuaPilot's Avatar
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    Default Re: Backup instruments

    I built mine pretty much for day/VFR and have no backup for the G3X because I too feel that one should be able to get the plane safely on the ground without any instruments. I don't have a magnetic compass either, FAR 91.205 says you need a "magnetic direction indicator", not a compass as many think.

    Actually I have backup instruments with the iPad. I use the Garmin Pilot app, it has a page with an "instrument" panel that gives GPS based altitude and ground speed. It also has a heading indicator that shows ground track.

    If I wanted a better backup I would probably get the Garmin G5.
    Phil Nelson
    A&P-IA, Maintenance Instructor
    KF 5 Outback, Cont. IO-240
    Flying since 2016

  9. #9

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    Mar 2019
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    Morris, IL
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    Default Re: Backup instruments

    Your cell phone can make a pretty good backup with any number of cheap apps. While it can't give you airspeed, it can give you GPS ground speed and that is close enough to get on the ground. Plenty of apps to show speed, altitude, even efis type displays.

    The other thing you can do is buy a Stratus and it will give you an AHRS system that can play on your iPad, iPhone, or Android device and have ADS-B in.

    I also agree that a competent pilot should be able to get one on the ground without any flight instruments whatsoever. I have practiced this on all of the airplanes I have owned. The Kitfox is on the low end of that spectrum and the Twin Comanche was the highest performing I have owned. I do it with another CFI who can monitor things while I fly circuits without being able to see the ASI or altimeter.

  10. #10
    Super Moderator desertdave's Avatar
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    Jun 2019
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    Default Re: Backup instruments

    23,000 hour airline guy here. My Kitfox has very basic VFR instruments and it is more than what I need. Honestly, a compass, airspeed indicator and an altimeter will get you anywhere with a paper map. An iPad and Foreflight will more than get you anywhere and spoon feed you every bit of information you would ever require. No Kitfox has deicing capability so why would you even think about putting yourself in that type of situation. and Iced up wing on a 750ish pound airplane would turn into an NTSB hearing in a New York minute.
    Save your money and save the weight. Use your iPad and think of all the beer you could buy with that backup instrumentation money.
    Last edited by desertdave; 11-25-2019 at 07:41 PM.
    Dave
    KitFox 6 Taildragger
    912 ULS
    IVO IFA Medium Prop
    Proudly rocking round dial gauges
    Follow my adventures
    IG @szmulewicz

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