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Turbines, safety and complacency

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Turbines, safety and complacency

Old 10-09-2016, 10:05 AM
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LGM Graphix
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Default Turbines, safety and complacency

Gentlemen,

I was going to leave this alone but I thought why? This is a smart topic to discuss so while I don't post often, I thought I should post this.

Our turbine engines have become incredibly reliable, we are very used to being able to simply fuel and fly without much concern. Unfortunately this has led to complacency with the operation of these engines.

At a recent event I noticed things have changed a great deal, much for the good, but some for the bad.

As mentioned our engines are reliable like crazy now days. They almost always do what we want them too. Sadly, what I witnessed (and finally said something about) is that during startup in particular a few critical aspects of the start up are being overlooked.

1. Extinguishers. I witnessed a number of starts where while extinguishers were present at the starting area, they were not within arms reach of the jet. In the case of a fire, particularly in the case of an engine seizure where fuel keeps flowing for a moment, we want to be able to get that fire out ASAP. Having to look around to where the extinguisher is, run to it, pull the pin and then use it takes precious time and could be the difference between a minor incident and a fireball.

2. Start zone safety, it always used to be a general rule that when you started a turbine you had nobody in the "blast zone", being in line with the turbine wheel or behind the jet. I witnessed a number of starts made with the tail pipe of the jet parallel to the runway, this left jet blast going into the pit area and the turbine wheel pointing directly towards the spectator area, now the spectator area was plenty far away from the start up area that even in the event of a catastrophic failure it is unlikely anything would reach the spectator area but when turned that direction it is very easy for somebody to be standing in closer proximity than they should be to the side of the airplane. On a less critical note for our safety but still an important consideration, at this field running the engine in that direction was also blowing up dirt from the ground and sending it back towards jets in the pit area.
The flight line at this event was also plenty far from the start area, and without thinking I made what I feel was a bad judgement call. I had started my bobcat multiple times with the tail pipe pointing towards the runway with pilots standing there. The P70 while blowing towards them, just didn't really have any affect, nobody seemed to notice and I didn't either. However, when I started my Olympus and ran it up to full power, the spotter that was on the flight line turned around and motioned that he was getting blasted. I didn't even think about it, it's all too easy to forget how far a jet blast on a big engine will be felt. I hopefully will never make that mistake again.

3. Monitoring during start up. Over the past few years I have seen a number of jets started with all the hatches on and the pilot just standing there and going through the start cycle. The engines are good, but they are far from perfect. Having your data terminal plugged in while start up is the safe and proper way to do things. It may allow you to catch a problem before a start up goes bad. When we had to start our engines with air, and use propane for start gas we never started anything without the data terminal plugged in. Once onboard starting gas and electric start were introduced we began getting lazy. Forgetful even. Again, I will admit to making a stupid mistake that fortunately nothing bad came out of it. Years ago I was having a great weekend flying my Kingcat with a G Booster 160+. The engine had been absolutely flawless and I started the airplane without removing the canopy, it started without fail and I flew an entire flight. Upon landing I couldn't find my data terminal, that's when I remembered I had plugged it on for shut down on my last flight and forgot to remove it from the jet before this flight. Fortunately it's flopping around inside the jet did not damage anything or cause me any issues but again, it taught me that no matter how good our engines are, there are many variables that could cause a huge problem, us being the big one!

4. The last thing I watched and realized afterwards that I too fell victim to is after start up, and everything running successfully, I would set my brakes and walk away from my jet to move extinguishers, data terminals etc. Transmitter sitting next to the jet or in my hand, it wouldn't really be all that hard to accidentally bump the throttle without realizing and those little wheels and brakes won't keep a jet at full throttle from hitting something.


I don't mean this thread to be a "the sky is falling" issue or anything like that. Safety amongst turbine modellers is very good and is part of the reason I am proud to be part of the turbine fraternity, but we all get complacent at some point it seems, maybe something very minor but if we remain vigilant in all starting procedures we minimize the risk of any real problems so lets take a minute to look back and ask ourselves, "do I really do everything according to the book and if I don't, I need to change that".
Despite turbine modellings safety record we are still sadly under the microscope by a lot of people, we don't want to "add fuel to the fire" for any reasons.

Just my opinion.
Jeremy
Old 10-09-2016, 10:13 AM
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Dr Honda
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I tend to agree. I'm still playing with air start engines... and it's very "Hands On". I guess I'm kind of guilty since I will start my falcon or shock jet without a starter tube... but I do have an extinguisher handy. (just in case) But I can't tell you how many times I've seen a new kero start engine, with the pilot just hitting the go button, and not really paying attention to it.


Regardless... this may be a good point with our clubs safety officer. (making him more turbine aware)

Last edited by Dr Honda; 10-09-2016 at 10:16 AM.
Old 10-09-2016, 11:17 AM
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All valid observations amigo. A great reminder.
Old 10-09-2016, 11:44 AM
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The last event I went to some of these were talked about at the pilots brief. That being said some of the things you talk about are techniques and not a standard. There is no standard for some of the things your refer to that im aware of but the other things like fire extinguishers and maintain safe direction of turbine exhaust is. Lots of folks have their checklist or technique for how they start up. I tend to do things the same way every time so i dont forget something. Some folks no longer use the data terminal and use telemetry, while others just dont use them at all. Nothing states its required, I use mine because thats just me but others dont use it until the need to pull faults or change parameters. This is when minimum standard is nice either by the Club, AMA or JPO to AMA, something you can add to but not take away from. I haven't joined JPO yet but since a friend is helping with JPO and now being in jets for 6 years I can see something that need updating and changed I plan to.

Last edited by FenderBean; 10-09-2016 at 11:47 AM.
Old 10-09-2016, 12:42 PM
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racer8297
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Well said Jeremy.

While some of these items are not rules, they are common sense.

A friend once said to me "it was all going good until it wasn't". And I say "familiarity breeds contempt".

We can never be too safe!
Old 10-09-2016, 12:42 PM
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On many planes today, we can gather same data from telemetry on transmitter face making a data terminal obsolete. In other words, just because the plane is all sealed up doesn't mean you're not monitoring the startup.

Last edited by patrnflyr; 10-09-2016 at 01:07 PM.
Old 10-09-2016, 01:57 PM
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Originally Posted by patrnflyr View Post
On many planes today, we can gather same data from telemetry on transmitter face making a data terminal obsolete. In other words, just because the plane is all sealed up doesn't mean you're not monitoring the startup.
Yep, on two of my planes all of the start up data is displayed on my transmitter for easy monitoring.
Old 10-09-2016, 02:00 PM
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Yes, good point ... a proper telemetry setup is up to the task of monitoring a startup.

The only issue I have with that is that on the "large print" screen of the 18MZ that is good for flying (at least for us old guys who like large timer numbers) can only display 3 telemetry parameters .. I usually choose Pitot airspeed and Fuel remaining for the first two since they are useful during flight (the spotter can read them), which only leaves one parameter for the turbine. Perhaps other brands have a better solution.

So at least on my radio, monitoring all the relevant parameters for startup requires swapping over to the telemetry menu and then back before flying and I find that kind of stuff distracting when about to fly. You also miss the textual messages from the HDT.

I know, Jeti can display the textual messages ... uh oh ... I can hear their footsteps coming now :-)

Lately on my Xicoy-ECU-equipped planes, I've been using Gaspar's new Bluetooth device for the Xicoy ECU and monitoring the startup on a smartphone HDT app wirelessly ... cool ... and works very well.

Dave
Old 10-09-2016, 02:08 PM
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Fair enough regarding telemetry however, that argument is only valid if you have equipment that supports it and are using it. While it's not a rule to use it, it is a good idea. I wonder how many flame outs are caused because of a battery too low or pump voltage to high indicating an issue etc. If you aren't monitoring somehow you'd never know.

Anyway, the intent of my post wasn't to imply there is only one way of doing things, it was to remind people that as good as our engines have become they are far from perfect and everything works great up until it fails.
Old 10-09-2016, 02:22 PM
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I forgot about this one too. Another reason it may still be prudent to use a data terminal over just telemetry is to ensure everything is shut down correctly. When I went to superman in I believe 2004, autostart was the cool new thing. There was somebody there who after his last flight shut down and disassembled his airplane. Loaded in his trailer and forgot about it. The issue was that he had forgotten to shut his airplane off. Now granted this was back in the 72mhz days and this is unlikely to be an issue today with 2.4 being so prevalent but somebody else ran a start sequence on a jet in the same frequency and it started the jet inside the trailer. Fortunately there wasn't enough starting gas in the onboard tank to complete a start cycle but there was enough to cause some damage. At the last event I was at, after flying my firebird even with plugging in the data terminal for shut down, once the hatch was back on I questioned if I hadn't shut the radio off. Fortunately I had but I needed to double check. I'm sure I'd have forgotten at some point in the last decade to shut everything off if I wasn't still opening everything up to shut down. Might be a one in a million chance but still something to consider.
Old 10-09-2016, 02:45 PM
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Complacency can also occur with conventional prop (gas, glow or electric) aircraft as well.
People often stand in the plane of the prop and think nothing of it.
The majority of electric airplanes do not have external arming switches and and carried in/out of the pits 'live'
Polite self policing at the club level is a good start...
Old 10-09-2016, 05:19 PM
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Jeremy,

Thanks for your comments. You said it well with the idea of "...complacency with the operation of these engines." There are many ways to do things and all have their reasons one way or the other. But your idea is good, pay attention and be safe. Complacency is very common in aviation accidents and also in our incidents and accidents. Your ideas are good. Pay attention and be safe out there. Well said.

Thanks, Gary Jones
Old 10-09-2016, 05:36 PM
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Thanks for this thread as some can get lazy and us newbies need good examples of how to operate so we can set good examples for the next group, and with the rise of EPO PNP jets there are lots of new entries to the fire breathing planes!

TB
Old 10-10-2016, 06:49 AM
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Last edited by franklin_m; 10-16-2016 at 03:17 AM.
Old 10-11-2016, 02:52 AM
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Can not imagine why anyone starting a model gas turbine would NOT want to monitor a GSU, telemetry to otherwise, to ensure that the start is progressing normally AND to check that the idle egt is normal.

Internal deterioration of the engine always results in egt increase ( according to RR), first clue to something going or gone wrong !

When starting a fulsize engine. ALL engine parameters are most carefully monitored by both pilots with the handling pilot keeping his hand on the fuel control switches until the EGT is stabilised and falling.

Why don't we do likewise, it's not at all difficult.

And Jeremy is dead right, complacency ( acknowledged as the biggest threat to safety in the airline world) is present in truck loads and sooner or later it will bite us.

David.
Old 10-11-2016, 04:30 AM
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Here's something else I've noticed that nobody seems to pay attention to any more. With the advent of kero start having the tail pipe pointed into the wind is no longer an issue as it once was with gas start, but there is something else to consider. If the tail pipe is pointing into the wind and you have to use an extinguisher the wind will blow the gas or chemical away from the fire and back onto you, potentially reducing the effectiveness of the extinguisher.
Old 10-11-2016, 06:12 AM
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WimB
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All my jets come equipped with an on board TDT to monitor startup, fire extinguisher at hands reach......
furthermore, I try to build my planes, and jets in particular, with the utmost care to all systems, from servo geometry, power supply, electrical cabling, fuel and air systems, to try and preclude failures as much as possible, and with ease of maintenance in mind.... It blows my mind to see how some people just seem to throw their equipment into a jet...without any planning or afterthought.... beautiful to see on the outside, but once the hatches come off..... To give you an idea, my Scorpion just had it's C-check after a seasons flying, and for the third time I improved the component layout in front....

Wim
Old 10-11-2016, 06:33 AM
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Originally Posted by David Gladwin View Post
Can not imagine why anyone starting a model gas turbine would NOT want to monitor a GSU, telemetry to otherwise, to ensure that the start is progressing normally AND to check that the idle egt is normal.

Internal deterioration of the engine always results in egt increase ( according to RR), first clue to something going or gone wrong !

When starting a fulsize engine. ALL engine parameters are most carefully monitored by both pilots with the handling pilot keeping his hand on the fuel control switches until the EGT is stabilised and falling.

Why don't we do likewise, it's not at all difficult.

And Jeremy is dead right, complacency ( acknowledged as the biggest threat to safety in the airline world) is present in truck loads and sooner or later it will bite us.

David.
+1
Another thing to carefully watch after start up is the idle rpm and pump voltages. Fluctuations in these parameters are often the first sign of a fuel pump that is about to seize or not working as it should, or a fuel system that is not set up well. I connect my gsu for every start and shut down. Takes no effort and might save you a jet as it did for me once with a fuel pump that was picking up.
Old 10-11-2016, 06:34 AM
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Jeremy,

Some really good points, both from yourself, and other contributors, we still see transgressions around fire extinguishers, fail safes, spotters, and facing into wind when starting, and cooling down.
Old 10-11-2016, 06:46 AM
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Originally Posted by WimB View Post
All my jets come equipped with an on board TDT to monitor startup, fire extinguisher at hands reach......
furthermore, I try to build my planes, and jets in particular, with the utmost care to all systems, from servo geometry, power supply, electrical cabling, fuel and air systems, to try and preclude failures as much as possible, and with ease of maintenance in mind.... It blows my mind to see how some people just seem to throw their equipment into a jet...without any planning or afterthought.... beautiful to see on the outside, but once the hatches come off..... To give you an idea, my Scorpion just had it's C-check after a seasons flying, and for the third time I improved the component layout in front....

Wim
To each their own I guess, I try and keep my installs clean as well and try to plan out things for function and maintenance upkeep, but that's a technique and doesn't mean the zip tie rangers setup works any better than the wire bundle builder to the wind start up, at events due to flight line setup you cannot always face into the wind. All good points to think about and someone getting into Jets should know good safe techniques for success. I think personally jet flyers are the safest side to the rc spectrum due to the materials used and just general danger of the turbines.
Old 10-14-2016, 12:38 PM
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Originally Posted by rcmigpilot View Post
Here's something else I've noticed that nobody seems to pay attention to any more. With the advent of kero start having the tail pipe pointed into the wind is no longer an issue as it once was with gas start, but there is something else to consider. If the tail pipe is pointing into the wind and you have to use an extinguisher the wind will blow the gas or chemical away from the fire and back onto you, potentially reducing the effectiveness of the extinguisher.
I'm not sure I agree with that 100%. It is *less* of an issue than with gas start, but it is still an issue. During the lightoff sequence, the ECU uses the starter motor to turn the turbine/compressor wheels, That's not as important during that period to provide compressed air to the ignition as it is to ensure that the fire comes out the correct end of the turbine and the wheels start turning in the right direction.

Depending on the strength of the wind, having the tailpipe pointing into the wind can still screwup the kero ignition process. We've had several instances where the kero start sequence has hung, for one reason or another because of wind up the tail pipe. Turn the airplane 90 degrees to the wind and everything is fine. We've also had kero starts fail for too much wind into the inlets. Again, 90 degrees to the wind fixes it. Basically, until you're into the fuel ramp stage, not having any wind through the airplane (if you can) gives the most consistent, successful starts - kero or gas start...

Bob

Last edited by rhklenke; 10-14-2016 at 12:41 PM.
Old 10-16-2016, 07:07 AM
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Tailpipe fire ?
Old 10-16-2016, 09:47 AM
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LGM Graphix
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Originally Posted by David Gladwin View Post
Tailpipe fire ?
Typically occurs the day after a night of eating spicy mexican food
Old 10-16-2016, 10:51 AM
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Originally Posted by LGM Graphix View Post
Typically occurs the day after a night of eating spicy mexican food
Lol beat me to it
Old 10-19-2016, 11:40 AM
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Most turbine flyers are very conscious safety wise . Most are very smart people as well . With a few thousand of their dollars at stake they take all necessary precaution for safety , but you are right we can become a bit complacent and walk a thin safety line sometimes , Thanks for reminding us that we should be safe , Advice well taken from my point of view .

Originally Posted by LGM Graphix View Post
Gentlemen,

I was going to leave this alone but I thought why? This is a smart topic to discuss so while I don't post often, I thought I should post this.

Our turbine engines have become incredibly reliable, we are very used to being able to simply fuel and fly without much concern. Unfortunately this has led to complacency with the operation of these engines.

At a recent event I noticed things have changed a great deal, much for the good, but some for the bad.

As mentioned our engines are reliable like crazy now days. They almost always do what we want them too. Sadly, what I witnessed (and finally said something about) is that during startup in particular a few critical aspects of the start up are being overlooked.

1. Extinguishers. I witnessed a number of starts where while extinguishers were present at the starting area, they were not within arms reach of the jet. In the case of a fire, particularly in the case of an engine seizure where fuel keeps flowing for a moment, we want to be able to get that fire out ASAP. Having to look around to where the extinguisher is, run to it, pull the pin and then use it takes precious time and could be the difference between a minor incident and a fireball.

2. Start zone safety, it always used to be a general rule that when you started a turbine you had nobody in the "blast zone", being in line with the turbine wheel or behind the jet. I witnessed a number of starts made with the tail pipe of the jet parallel to the runway, this left jet blast going into the pit area and the turbine wheel pointing directly towards the spectator area, now the spectator area was plenty far away from the start up area that even in the event of a catastrophic failure it is unlikely anything would reach the spectator area but when turned that direction it is very easy for somebody to be standing in closer proximity than they should be to the side of the airplane. On a less critical note for our safety but still an important consideration, at this field running the engine in that direction was also blowing up dirt from the ground and sending it back towards jets in the pit area.
The flight line at this event was also plenty far from the start area, and without thinking I made what I feel was a bad judgement call. I had started my bobcat multiple times with the tail pipe pointing towards the runway with pilots standing there. The P70 while blowing towards them, just didn't really have any affect, nobody seemed to notice and I didn't either. However, when I started my Olympus and ran it up to full power, the spotter that was on the flight line turned around and motioned that he was getting blasted. I didn't even think about it, it's all too easy to forget how far a jet blast on a big engine will be felt. I hopefully will never make that mistake again.

3. Monitoring during start up. Over the past few years I have seen a number of jets started with all the hatches on and the pilot just standing there and going through the start cycle. The engines are good, but they are far from perfect. Having your data terminal plugged in while start up is the safe and proper way to do things. It may allow you to catch a problem before a start up goes bad. When we had to start our engines with air, and use propane for start gas we never started anything without the data terminal plugged in. Once onboard starting gas and electric start were introduced we began getting lazy. Forgetful even. Again, I will admit to making a stupid mistake that fortunately nothing bad came out of it. Years ago I was having a great weekend flying my Kingcat with a G Booster 160+. The engine had been absolutely flawless and I started the airplane without removing the canopy, it started without fail and I flew an entire flight. Upon landing I couldn't find my data terminal, that's when I remembered I had plugged it on for shut down on my last flight and forgot to remove it from the jet before this flight. Fortunately it's flopping around inside the jet did not damage anything or cause me any issues but again, it taught me that no matter how good our engines are, there are many variables that could cause a huge problem, us being the big one!

4. The last thing I watched and realized afterwards that I too fell victim to is after start up, and everything running successfully, I would set my brakes and walk away from my jet to move extinguishers, data terminals etc. Transmitter sitting next to the jet or in my hand, it wouldn't really be all that hard to accidentally bump the throttle without realizing and those little wheels and brakes won't keep a jet at full throttle from hitting something.


I don't mean this thread to be a "the sky is falling" issue or anything like that. Safety amongst turbine modellers is very good and is part of the reason I am proud to be part of the turbine fraternity, but we all get complacent at some point it seems, maybe something very minor but if we remain vigilant in all starting procedures we minimize the risk of any real problems so lets take a minute to look back and ask ourselves, "do I really do everything according to the book and if I don't, I need to change that".
Despite turbine modellings safety record we are still sadly under the microscope by a lot of people, we don't want to "add fuel to the fire" for any reasons.

Just my opinion.
Jeremy

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