Cabin and Firewall

With the firewall forward kit and the avionics, related tasks are accomplished.

Instrument Panel and Avionics Arrive

Boxes and boxes of Garmin avionics arrived along with my custom instrument panel and its plug-n-play wiring harness from Midwest Panel Builders. There’s lots to play with, but I still managed a few other tasks.

March – Spring Has Sprung

Man does not live by aircraft building alone. There are so many enjoyable things to do.

E-Biking on the Spruce Railroad Trail – Lake Crescent, Washington

Group Fly-Out to Forks, Washington – Mary Ann and I have some fun flying in our Warrior

Misc Rework – Firewall and Wingtip

Work on the RH wingtip continues. Getting a good fit (matching the wing airfoil) is what I’m after. It has to happen in small steps. I’m getting there.

The battery box reinforcement channel is going to be tricky to rivet to the firewall. That’s because the shape of the channel overhangs and blocks access for the rivet setting tool. A few of the holes can be riveted from behind, but a couple holes are only accessible from the front. I’ve asked the factory about it. (This channel really should have been mounted before the parachute box was assembled at the factory.)

I’ve decided in favor of having the full-airplane ballistic parachute. I’ve thought about it – long and hard. The terrain in Pacific Northwest Washington is very rugged – utterly unforgiving should the occasion of an emergency off-airport landing ever present itself. Having the parachute will give me some peace of mind. I think it will also open the door to some evening and night flights that I wouldn’t otherwise consider.

The parachute system adds weight and expense, but it likely adds a bit of safety margin and value, as well.

There are break-away skin panels that cover the parachute compartment. Mounting them will involve countersunk rivets. The flanges of the firewall, RIB-003 and the curved top-skin, in front of the windscreen need to be dimpled with a squeezer. To do that, I have to remove the top-skin that was partially riveted at the factory. I also have to countersink some of the holes in the narrow cowl mounting strips, using a 120 deg pilot-cutter and micro-stop cage. I’m doing this countersink rework on the plane, so it’ll be a freehand operation with my lithium battery-powered drill. Having the top-skin off will provide improved access for installation of the avionics rack and wiring harness.

The Engine – Rotax 912iS Sport

I have to say, it looks suspiciously like — a brand new airplane engine!!!

Admittedly, there’s not much building going on here, but there are some cool details to look at. The engine comes with its Engine Control Unit (ECU) – the computerized module that monitors and manages the engine performance. There’s a fusebox and dual voltage regulator module. And, there’s a completely assembled fuel pumps module. Early Sling 2 kits apparently required building up the internal plumbing with two 2 pumps, check-valves, hoses and clamps. I’ve been spared all of that. Each modules are matched to the engine serial number and were presumably used to test run the new engine (for about an hour) at the BRP Rotax engine factory in Austria.

There are some small parts for specialized electrical connectors that I’ll send off to my wiring harness builder for incorporation. There are also some bushings and hardware for mounting the Whirlwind propeller, which should arrive in a few days.

Custom Instrument Panel – First Look

A lot of thought has gone into the instrument panel. With two 10″ Garmin G3X Touch displays, remaining Sling 2 panel space is at a premium. I still needed to tuck in a GTN 650Xi navigator, GMC 507 auto-pilot control and a G5 backup flight instrument. With all that gear, finding places for switches and circuit breakers took me a while to figure out.

A Vertical Power VP-X Pro, solid-state circuit breaker system, completely eliminated panel-mounted circuit breakers. The arrangement of the quite modest number of switches has been carefully laid out. Workflow and purpose were key considerations. I’ve taken advantage of advice and feedback from many sources. So far, I think it’s turning out beautifully.

There’s a tremendous amount of functionality in the touch-screen avionics. That reduces panel clutter enormously. Remote GTR 20 VHF (COM2) radio, GTR 245R audio control and GTX 45R ADS-B (in/out) transponder are all managed through the touch-screens. There’s also integrated engine monitoring and display.

There’s so much stuff, that getting a professionally designed and fabricated wiring harness is clearly the only way to go. The absolute top shop for this work is Midwest Panel Builders in Lapeer, Michigan. They’ve been setting the standard, especially for the various models of Sling aircraft.

The integrated capability of all this equipment is truly astounding – off the charts compared to more traditional steam gauges that have been the mainstay of small GA aircraft for decades. I simply cannot wait to slip into the cockpit and learn how to put this technology to effective use. It’s going to be huge fun. My plan is to earn my instrument rating in my own technically advanced airplane (TAA) . That’s a thing, believe it or not.

Rotax 912is Sport Engine – New in Box

Big Wednesday kicked off with a scenic morning drive from Sequim to a freight forwarding company in Kent, Washington. My engine and firewall forward kit was shipped Cargolux air-freight from South Africa, changing planes in Belgium. The goods arrived a couple of days earlier at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (KSEA, SeaTac). Having cleared customs, it became available for me to collect.

I’ve looked forward to a day like this for I don’t know how many years. Having an absolutely brand new airplane engine is almost too much for me to grok. I’ve been harboring thoughts of rebuilding the O-32O in my ’84 Warrior, almost since the day I bought it 20 years ago – but, it hasn’t happened. It’s still running strong at TBO. And now, I’ve got the Holy Grail in hand – a factory new airplane engine! Oh my!

This new engine and the Sling 2 airplane I’m building are a match made in heaven – 21st century all the way!

Wingtips – More Rework

After a gallant effort on the original RH wingtip, I ordered and received a replacement RH wingtip. The new part still had too much length and thickness at the trailing edge, but the workmanship of the layup was much improved and it had noticeably better overall shape. It has still taken lots of work to get the new RH tip to fit. But, it’s coming along and it’s going to work out well.

The LH tip is proving to be huge headache. Despite extensive rework, it’s now clear that the LH wingtip isn’t close enough to the proper cross section to fit and it would take extraordinary effort to get it in the ballpark.

Just like the RH wingtip, the length of the LH part at trailing edge is too long and the trailing edge profile (taper) is too thick to fit the trailing edge wing skin. But the kicker is the overall height. It’s just too narrow – top to bottom. It’s almost 2 cm short, at the widest point.

Trying to stretch the height of the LH tip requires too much force. The LH wingtip has no imbedded reinforcement strip on the bottom edge. The top reinforcement is out of position. Without proper stiffness, the tendency for waviness between the rivet holes would be profound.

To continue with the original LH wingtip, I’d have to section the part and almost re-manufacture it. I’ve decided that it’s much too much time and effort, although I have seen one other builder go to such lengths and spent over 130 hours on just trying to get his wingtips to fit. I’m at more than 40 hours on wingtips and I’m going to cut my losses and get a better baseline part.

I went ahead and negotiated a new LH wingtip from the factory, as I did for the RH side. They’ve kindly agreed to send me one. Kudos to Sling Aircraft for standing by their product. Stay tuned.

VS – Trial Fit

One things leads to another. A question about the factory-installed rudder cables got me started down the road of test-fitting the vertical stabilizer. I was very pleased to find that it was easy to do and the fit appears to be excellent.

I hadn’t really expected to do this step just now. But, in order to evaluate much about the rudder cables, the entire control mechanism for the rudder and steerable nose-wheel needs to in place and adjusted. I learned this during a customer support exchange with Sling Aircraft’s Jean d’Assonville. I’d called him because I was concerned that the rudder cables may have been installed improperly during factory the quick-build of my fuselage. Jean assured me that it was very unlikely that the cables were wrong.

I was wondering because the KAI talks about one cable being slightly longer than the other. Somehow they seemed to be the other way around. Jean said that the only way to properly evaluate the setup would be to assemble everything. It only takes 15 minutes, he tells me! LOL. But, he really meant it!

It’s going to take me hours and hours, over days and days, to get the entire rudder control mechanism in place. That’s not only because I’m slow and plodding, but also because I’m not ready to install the nose-wheel yet. It’ll all just have to wait until I get the avionics rack, LRU’s and harness in place while the wheels are off and the fuselage is low and as easily accessible as it can be.

So then. I still don’t know for certain that the rudder cables are installed properly. But, I did get inspired to get the VS out from storage in the house and get it fitted on the fuselage. Technically, that’s progress! The nice fit between the fuselage and vertical stabilizer is satisfying too.