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Skycatcher problem??????

Posted By:
Jim Lasch
28
Posts
1
#1 Posted: 3/13/2011 20:42:45

I saw a Cessna Skycatcher for sale online.  In the description the seller said that a door came off in flight twice.  Is this a design problem or just another example of Chinese workmanship, or rather the lack thereof?



Ron Wanttaja
246
Posts
98
#2 Posted: 3/13/2011 22:41:16
Jim Lasch wrote:

 

I saw a Cessna Skycatcher for sale online.  In the description the seller said that a door came off in flight twice.  Is this a design problem or just another example of Chinese workmanship, or rather the lack thereof?

Final assembly of Cessna Skycatchers is done in Wichita.

 



Ron Wanttaja
Joe LaMantia
Young Eagles Pilot or Volunteer
175
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#3 Posted: 3/14/2011 11:38:59

OK!  I know the Skycatcher has two doors, but if this happened twice did the guy ignore the first missing door and fly it with one door?!!  I don't think so!  What probably happened was the door opened in flight.  I trained and flew many hours in a 1972 C-150L, the door could be opened when locked by pushing a wing tip up and down a couple of times.  Cessna builds fine aircraft, but they do cut a few corners to keep the costs down.

I have experienced the door opening in flight in the 150 and it just stays attached to the hinges and you get a gap of about an inch or so as the door is held in trail by the slipstream.  This usually happens after takeoff when the load shifts from the gear to the wings.  In the C-172 you get a twang from the gear struts as they become "unsprung" on takeoff.  Other than a bit of wind and some noise the open door is no big deal, just reach over and close it.

If they actually had a door fall off in flight, I'd start the investigation with the guy who pre-flighted the aircraft, then proceed to all the people who inspected the thing and passed it as airworthy.  If this happened twice on the same airplane then the guy who "fixed" it the first time has a problem!  If this is happening on more than one Skycatcher then Cessna has a Big Problem!


Joe

?\)



Janet Davidson
Young Eagles Pilot or VolunteerAirVenture Volunteer
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#4 Posted: 3/14/2011 11:50:13 Modified: 3/14/2011 11:56:27

"just another example of Chinese workmanship, or rather the lack thereof?"

 

I seem to recall the Chinese built a wall a few years ago, which is still standing.  I'd call that pretty good workmanship.

 

I owned a Chinese aircraft.  It is the same age as me, built to last (will probably still be flying long after I've turned into dust), and the workmanship was never in doubt.  Why does everyone assume that because a plane is built in China, it will be junk?  I've seen some appalling examples of aircraft workmanship built right on our doorstep, by Americans for the American market.  Needless to say, the company is no longer in existance.


 



Jim Lasch
28
Posts
1
#5 Posted: 3/14/2011 14:56:16

All I really know is what is on the website.  Here it is:

I took possion of this airplane in October and we have put 80 hours on it. We have had two door open incidents and the last one the door departed the aircraft and landed in a school yard near some kids playing basket ball. A new door is ordered and I beleive that Cessna will provide an improvement on how the door is attached to the airframe so this will not happen again. I have attached a few photos of the door after it was recorvered. My wife insisted that we upgrade to a reliable late model 172, 2006 or newer.

 

Makes me think that pre-flight could have been a possibility, but if it came off then maybe that's the fault of the gull wing door.  Remember the Skycatcher doors open up, like a lot of the LS aircraft. 

My question is just like your last sentence, just who is the problem here. 

Come to think of it, I've had a door come open twice, the first time I didn't even know it until the instructor told me to do a full-stop landing and then told me to shut the door. 



Janet Davidson
Young Eagles Pilot or VolunteerAirVenture Volunteer
131
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#6 Posted: 3/14/2011 16:51:58

What an odd way to advertise something for sale. 

 

"A bit fell off my plane.  Not once, but twice.  In fact, it nearly hit some children when it fell off.  So now I am trying to sell the plane 'cos we don't trust it.  Any takers?".... 
loopy

 

Do you have a link to the website where it is posted?  I'm interested to see the photos. 



Jim Lasch
28
Posts
1
#7 Posted: 3/14/2011 17:24:37 Modified: 3/15/2011 07:51:54

Yep, here it is.   http://www.controller.com/listingsdetail/aircraft-for-sale/CESSNA-162/2010-CESSNA-162/1193709.htm?

I agree it's odd.  Maybe he's trying to start exactly what we've started. 

I am sure not interested in his airplane.  But I do think I'm raising a legitimate question.

 



Ron Wanttaja
246
Posts
98
#8 Posted: 3/14/2011 23:12:11
Jim Lasch wrote:

 

Yep, here it is.   http://www.controller.com/listingsdetail/aircraft-for-sale/CESSNA-162/2010-CESSNA-162/1193709.htm?

I agree it's odd.  Maybe he's trying to start exactly what we've started. 

I am sure not interested in his airplane.  But I do think I'm raising a legitimate question.

Have any other Skycatchers lost a door in flight?  Several different airplanes losing doors might indicate a design or construction issue; ONE airplane losing several doors points to pilot error.

Let's consider the root causes:  1.  The plane may not have been designed properly.  2.  The plane may not have been manufactured properly.  3.  It may not have been assembled properly.  4. It may not have been properly inspected prior to delivery.  5. It may not have been maintained properly.  6. It may not have been operated properly.

Only one of these six factors touch on the plane's being manufactured overseas.   I'd figure that if it was something that happened during manufacture, it would have happened to more than one airplane.  Still, one has to consider that the final assembly people in Wichita should have spotted it, or that the person who performed the certification inspection (again, in Wichita) should have spotted it. 

Could it have been due to a manufacturing defect?  Certainly.  But there have been hundreds of Airworthiness Directives triggered by faulty manufacturing of US-built aircraft.  Is there some reason the Chinese should be held to a higher standard?




Ron Wanttaja
Jim Lasch
28
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#9 Posted: 3/15/2011 06:59:07

  Is there some reason the Chinese should be held to a higher standard?

 

None whatsoever!  Having said that, I don't think they or anybody else manufacturing aircraft should get a pass.  I think any time something like this happens it's incumbent on the flying community to check and re-check the possibilities until an answer if found.  That's US climbing into these things and going up in the air, and I for one am a big fan of having a perfectly equal number of landings as takeoffs!



Joe LaMantia
Young Eagles Pilot or Volunteer
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#10 Posted: 3/15/2011 10:51:29

Good discussion!

I think Ron has laid out what I was trying to get at in my first post.  I forgot about the gull wing doors, which won't behave like an old C-150 and just ride in the slip stream until you close them.  That is a design issue which has a built in safety issue if the door opens in flight!  Since other high-wing LSA's use this design approach and haven't had a problem,(yet?!) then I would suggest that Cessna may have to take another look at all the elements that relate to this problem.  Here we have a big company with a new design introduction, using an off-shore manufacturing facility and building this product in high volume (1000 orders) with very little field experience.  That is a formula for disaster that I have seen occur more then once in my former career.  Some may remember that Cessna had a bit of a problem back in the 70's when then decided to put the first Lycoming engines in the Skyhawk.  That was an all american disaster from start to finish.

China wants to get into every business it can, after all it is the largest country on earth with a huge domestic market.  We shouldn't judge their aircraft mfg. abilities by what we purchase at Wal-Mart.  Maybe this has a simple fix, like a "door ajar" light on the panel, and maybe it needs a whole new set of parts to keep the damm thing shut.  Anyway you look at it, it's not a pretty picture for Cessna.


Joe

:\(

  



Jim Lasch
28
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#11 Posted: 3/15/2011 12:41:33

I think you've hit the nail right on the head Joe.  And while reading your post I suddenly remembered that the TL Ultralight Sirius has an additional step to closing their gull-wing doors.  After you close the door, you move a red locking lever from "open" to "closed", that pushes a rod into the frame of the aircraft, thus insuring that the door is closed and locked. 

And to all, yes, I am guilty of judging from Wal-Mart.  Mea Culpa.
sad



Ron Wanttaja
246
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#12 Posted: 3/15/2011 14:19:52
Joe LaMantia wrote:

 

Here we have a big company with a new design introduction, using an off-shore manufacturing facility and building this product in high volume (1000 orders) with very little field experience.  That is a formula for disaster that I have seen occur more then once in my former career. 

And it's happening right now, on a very large scale:  Boeing 787.  Company management decided it would be cheaper and more efficient to have major portions of the aircraft built over a wide range of locations and companies.   To say it hasn't worked out is an understatement.   Saw a press report this week that said Boeing is considering doing EXACTLY the opposite for the next airplane:  Building at a central location, and making any subcontractors set up locally so they can be more-easily monitored.

There's no question cultural differences can make a difference in quality; coupled with an environment that a company may not have had experience in, this *can* cause problems.  I don't see that as a natural bent towards bad workmanship, but it behooves the prime contractor (e.g., Cessna or Boeing) to ensure the proper education is performed and the quality assurance processes in place.  This, I think, is one of the things that bit Boeing so bad with the 787.   It may, for all we know, have bit Cessna, too...that might explain why it took so long to get production going. 

Cessna has a huge investment in the Skycatcher... I'm sure they're hyper-sensitive to any allegations of poor quality control, and (hopefully!) are keeping a close watch.

I've got a personal example of the "cultural differences" and "environment a company may not have experience in."  I contracted for a second edition of one of my aviation books a few years back, and the publisher (McGraw Hill) outsourced editing to India.  The editor had an excellent grasp of the English language, but no knowledge of aviation, mechanics, or American idiom.    I had to stop them from spelling out, "Federal Aviation Administration" every time I used the term "FAA."  They changed all the references to wrench sizes from fractions to ratios (e.g, from "use a 9/16" wrench" to " use a 9:16 wrench").  They didn't understand my reference to "Old Home Week" (they changed it to "Old Home Work").  FORTUNATELY, they asked about my use of the acronym "GI" ("Government Issue"), as "Gastro-Intestinal" didn't seem to fit the context....

It wasn't that they were stupid, or poorly-educated...they were just outside their own cultural experience.   It was submitted to me for checkover prior to publication, so we were able to get everything corrected.  Or *most* everything.  Something may have leaked through.

But then, errors happen over here, too.  On the first edition of the book (produced right here in the good 'ol USA) they mis-spelled the title on the cover....

 



Ron Wanttaja
Joe LaMantia
Young Eagles Pilot or Volunteer
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#13 Posted: 3/16/2011 11:28:02

Once again Ron has hit the nail on the head!  I spent 15 years with GE Medical Systems providing cost estimates and analysis on new product introductions.  This is a global business, that produces leading edge medical equipment i.e., MRI, Cat scanners (CT), digital X-ray machines and on and on.  When you have a large organization dealing with a complex product you get a lot of miss communication without leaving headquarters.  If you add in off-site manufacturing or worse, off-shore players, you have a nightmare to manage.  I have seen a few well managed product introductions, more then a few disasters, with the rest falling in between.   Generally speaking, upper management tends to set high goals, like time schedules, cost goals, and such which sets-up the environment for failure.  Remember the old saying "haste makes waste"?  Back in the old days before global competition, all the sins were fixed by engineering changes as the problems surfaced from the field.  Today you don't get a second chance, your competition will beat you over the head with your screw-ups in the marketplace.

American aircraft manufacturers are now faced with the same problems that the US auto industry faced back in the 80's.  We have a lot of managerial in-breeding that puts blinders on decision makers.  The result is a lot of negative feedback in the market.  Let's hope that Boeing doesn't wind up like GM.

Joe



#14 Posted: 3/18/2011 17:28:58

Joe,  I wouldn't  hold my breath hoping Boeing doesn't wind up like GM.  In order to manage it's way out of a 787 debacle, a company has to have top managers that understand their product, understand their customers,  and understand there work force and it's capabilities.  Unfortunately Boeing's managers have not shown that ability.  Boeing managers were warned what would happen with the 787.  They showed that they don't understand their product by ignoring the warnings.  As a result thousands of the most capable engineers in the world have left Boeing their jobs surplussed by outsourcing.  Today, as a result Boeing has lost it's tribal knowledge of  it's product.  That knowledge that was passed down from generation to generation is now gone.  What little remains is routinely being ignored.  Boeing management was warned that the wing would fail and exactly where it would fail by a senior engineer.  That input was ignored.  Boeing no longer has a critical mass of experienced enlightened engineers to make things happen.  Boeing's engineering force is back to wandering in the dark making all the mistakes a third world startup would make.   I wouldn't bet that Boeing can rebuild it's engineering force.  It is more than 10 years since they started destroying it.  It will take 20 years to reverse what they have done.   MacDonald did the same thing to Douglas in the s and they never recovered.   In the same way Cessna lost it's tribal knowledge of small training aircraft when it shut down 150 production in the s.  As a result their new generation of hot shot engineers with their fancy computer software designed  a product where several prototype SkyCatchers crashed in flight test.   Cessna management not understanding their product is having considerable problems with production in China.   The 3% or 4% savings they were going to get from having it build in China have not materialized.  In reality it is costing them more to build this product in China than in Wichita.  Management will continue to cook the books in an attempt to save face and show that it cost less to build in China just as Boeing and MacDonald Douglas management have done.   MacDonald Douglas and GM have define the way to bankruptcy but the rest of American industry has blindly followed in their footsteps.  



Mike M.
Jim Lasch
28
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1
#15 Posted: 3/18/2011 20:11:10

"  Management will continue to cook the books in an attempt to save face and show that it cost less to build in China just as Boeing and MacDonald Douglas management have done."

And that concept "saving face" is just about as Oriental as it gets!  I hope you're wrong, but think you're right. 

It's going to be interesting to see if Scully has any signs of this whole door thing on his trip.

 



Janet Davidson
Young Eagles Pilot or VolunteerAirVenture Volunteer
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#16 Posted: 3/18/2011 21:59:24

Shurly you mean "S iles"? 
tongueout



Frank Giger
Homebuilder or Craftsman
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#17 Posted: 3/19/2011 01:42:43

Reading the manual for the Skycatcher (which is available on Cessna's site) I found multiple warnings on the doors, each with BIG BOLD LETTERS on how mistreating them (slamming them shut, putting weight on them, closing them with the seat belt hanging out, etc) can damage the doors and make them less secure and, lo and behold, make opening in flight possible.

In the ad the guy says he bought the plane for his kids to train in....I wonder if he properly walked them through the manual, particularly in the notices on door treatment.

As a student pilot I didn't crack the POI for the plane I trained in until about halfway through to my license - the pre-solo exam.

Whether or not the Skycatcher should have more robust doors that can handle more abuse or not is a different topic, but there are a lot of unknowns in how this plane was treated.



Mark Calder
Vintage Aircraft Association MemberHomebuilder or Craftsman
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#18 Posted: 3/19/2011 04:46:06

Mike, you have nailed it right on the head. I have a unique view of all of this, I worked for the Auto industry in China at a joint venture and now work on the 787 trying to clean up this disaster. The most corrupt place in the world is China. Most middle managers at our JV were millionares, they got this way by siphoning off matrials and supplies before they were accounted for. They routinely substituted inferior materials and forged documents to cover it up. This is standard business practice in China. (remember the poisoned milk a few years ago and the lead painted toys) Nothing can be trusted to be what it seems in China. Maybe these door hinges were assembled with inferior material, hard to say, but absolutly possible. Boeing is finding out what happens when you lose control of the design process and outsource it to suppliers and third world countries. That said, it is beyond my comprehension why they have decided to re engineer the newest program for the US Air Force , the 767 tanker in Russia? I wonder why our politicians are asleep at the wheel on this. Think about this, Russia will be redesigning a war fighting aircraft using US tax dollars (ours). I mean, who are we supposed to be using this tanker against in the future?  Any way, if you buy  a Skycatcher you deserve what you are getting.



Theodore Jula
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#19 Posted: 3/19/2011 08:19:54

Janet,

In 1986 my wife and I toured China with a small medical studeis group. The market reforms had just begun. At that time only a very small portion of the wall had been reconstructed for the tourists...the rest was mainly a pile of rubble. What you see now is akin to "colonial" Williamsburg VA.

Regards,

Ted Jula EAA 277144



Janet Davidson
Young Eagles Pilot or VolunteerAirVenture Volunteer
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#20 Posted: 3/19/2011 09:29:07

Ted,

 

That must have been a fascinating trip.  I was in Russia in 1989, only for 4 days, but 4 days I will never forget. 

 

Perhaps I should have used the Terracotta Army as an example 
wink



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