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Old 02-17-2008, 02:35 PM   #1
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MAAC WINGS power endorsements

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Recommendation #27 in the MAAC AGM info distributed in this month's edition of Model Aviation Canada introduces a power endorsement for people that receive their WINGS using electric powered planes only (but not the other way around). It reads:

"That we should have a power endorsement for those pilots who
received their wings using electric powered planes only. This is to
ensure that they are aware of the different hazards with glow or gas
engines and models."

As an electric flyer and a member of an all-electric club in Ottawa, this recommendation caught my attention and has definitely caught the attention of our club members.

As the recommendation originated in Ottawa, I've posted a query on (ottawa R/C forums) and emailed Claude Melbourne (our ZD) to try to figure out where this was coming from (perhaps some sort of incident had occurred). I'd like to understand what the proponents hope to achieve, as the downsides seem numerous:

- change in direction of WINGS from flight control competency to type checks and certifications; opens the door to a flood of similar certifications for various aircraft types and power sources
- potential insurance ramifications for pilots not certified on the type being flown (stemming from above)
- negative impact on electric safety as it wrongly sends the message that a plane that is electric powered is somehow inherently safe, rather than just having a somewhat different set of safety hazards to pay attention to
- negative impact on perceived value of MAAC membership for electric park flyer pilots (their wings are 2nd class)
- discriminatory against electric flyers only (why should nitro/gas to electric, nitro/gas to turbine, turbine to electric, etc. etc. not require similar endorsements?)
- enshrines in rules yet more of what might be best left to common sense; there are a million other things that are equally important when familiarizing yourself with a new airplane, new radio, new field, etc. etc. that require diligence by a responsible pilot, but which do not require flight testing and certification

I'd love to hear some discussion on this. Within our electric-only club, the discussion is fairly one-sided. And again, if anyone knows what instigated this proposal in the first place, I'd love to hear it.

- Eric
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Old 02-17-2008, 06:21 PM   #2
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Sounds like one of the many recommendations that will never actually get past the AGM. There are a few this year that wont get far

Poorly thought out with terrible rationale. Whoever put this forward has obviously never witnessed some of the larger electric models flown today.
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Old 02-17-2008, 07:04 PM   #3
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The Wings system is not broken, therefore it does not require tinkering. Somebody had too much time on their hands, or an axe needing sharpening.
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Old 02-17-2008, 07:39 PM   #4
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The recommendation had to be accepted by all that attended the meeting to get this far. With that said, I agree with these guys, probably won't make it too far! Kudos to the ones who at least attended their AZM and brought it forward. This is where ideas and change start!
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Old 02-17-2008, 10:13 PM   #5
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If you get your driver's licence with an automatic, does that mean you're not allowed to drive a stick?

I think it's a matter of competence and common sense. A pilot getting his/her wings does not rest solely on his/her ability to start or turn on an engine. Yes, there are many different check lists that must be followed pending the type of aircraft you operate. Should there be a separate category for electric?

The answer is easy. Should there be a separate category for gas engines with built in magnetos vs. glow? How about giant scale verses a 45 inch trainer? Or... turbine verses an unpowered 4 meter glider? The fact is, a pilot should know his/her equipment. I question the need for special consideration when there are variations in equipment far greater then electric vs. glow.

Would you attempt to rent a car with a manual transmission if you have never operated one? Then common sense might suggest that a pilot would proceed carefully with his/her new gas turbine model if it's a new experience. I see it as nothing more then any pilot taking out a new plane for the first time... you hand it to someone who's more capable then you - to trim it out, then hand it back.

If we need a separate pilot program for electric/glow/gas/turbine... then we have a serious problem with our wings program not being followed.
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Old 02-17-2008, 10:40 PM   #6
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I think much of this type of stuff exists because there is a common misconception out there that government regulators are waiting in the shadows to jump out and lay down a bunch of rules and restrictions on model aircraft. This leads to a notion that MAAC needs to micro-manage everything we do to keep them at bay.

What we need to do is fly smart and fly safe.

More importantly, you mouth. Too many times, members sit and stew on something they witness, say nothing, then endevour to craft rules to curtail the behaviour they don't like, hoping some invisible MAAC enforcement entitiy will swoop in and hammer the nonconformist.

Won't happen. Look after your own club issues/problems as they arrise and life will be good.
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Old 02-18-2008, 06:44 AM   #7
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What if you get your wings on an electric jet and go right to a turbine trainer??? That's not gas nor glow!!
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Old 02-18-2008, 06:57 AM   #8
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I suspect that you sit out there and play the troll, then you fire this thoughtful and absolutely to-the-point gem.

I have to agree with you that the grass-roots end of the hobby should be the ones doing sanity-checks on everyone's activities and the "qualifications" that people demontstrate.

MAAC is there to provide the oversight (50,000 foot view of modelling and the rules that we need to have and should be following), not micro-managing our every breath.

Someone else pointed out that the scheme is like the difference between automatic and manual transmissions on cars. Sorry, but I think that the analogy that you should be looking at is 18-wheeler versus motorcycle verus passenger car.

I can see the locl club implementation of this as part of the club's internal and field rules -- "if you are changing types of models for the first time (eg, electric to IC or helicopter), you must undergo a refresher course with the Chief Flight Instructor or designated Instructor and re-pass your wings test before you can fly models of that type."

Or something to that effect. What is needed is not a draconian rule but a speed-bump that asks the question: do I have the knowledge and habits needed for this type of model? NO? Then I'd better get them, and the best place to learn them is at the knee of a qualified instructor.

This is also the way many if not most of use learned pattern or aerobatics, getting assistance from someone who can teach it.
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Old 02-18-2008, 07:20 AM   #9
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I am one of the board members who will be discussing these suggestions at the AGM,so it is not proper to give my opinions here.
However I do fly gas,glow and 16" prop electric and I must say the set up I would least wish to test my fingers on would by the very sharp baloney slicer on the front of my large AXI powered glider.
Safety is a personal and club based is not MAAC,s place nor does it have the resources or desire to be the "safety cop"
The dismal insurance claims record of the 2007 season had better improve or we are all in trouble as outlined in the MAAC Mag Presidents column ,and this can only happen at the club level.
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Old 02-18-2008, 08:10 AM   #10
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Byrocat - I agree that this kind of thing can be handled at the local level, but I wish you hadn't made that 18-wheeler vs 4-wheeler comparison.

There's nothing particularly simple or risk-free about electric power, it's just different and not in the sense the 18-wheeler comparison implies. The electric power system on my latest project makes 3.75hp; that's what an OS 1.60 2-stroke puts out. At NEAT one guy was flying an electric plane that had over 17hp. Compare to a DA-150, which makes slightly less. These electrics have their its own safety issues that a glow or gas plane does not have, just as gas or glow also have their own unique safety considerations, and large electrics are not longer an oddity but are becoming fairly common amongst electric flyers that fly with MAAC clubs. The 18-wheeler comparison again implies that somehow electric power is simpler or lesser in some way, or that the risks are lower, and that's just not true.

- Eric
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