The House of Rapp must show up at the top of some frequent Google search used by prospective Skylane owners, because I field a lot of inquiries about the airplane. In fact, I received one such query today.
As a C-182 driver and previous owner I was wondering if you could comment authoritatively regarding the following comment from a back issue of Aviation Consumer:
“To this day, the airplane [ 1998 Cessna 182 ] requires aggressive re-trimming during the flare to prevent wheelbarrowing, and many 182s have been pranged over the years because of it.”
The statement “aggressive re-trimming during flare” conjures up all sorts of scenarios in the minds eye that I can’t quite sort out. Does this mean in the last few seconds you have to reach down and bump the trim nose up or suffer an iffy score from the landing judges? How bad are we talking here? Would a stiff arm suffice for controlling pitch in the flare? Would keeping a little power in help minimize the nose-drop tendency or is that a bad idea?
It seems to me, that any pre-occupation with trim might, at such a critical phase of flight, result in an over-trimmed configuration and place you in a perfect situation for a departure-stall if a go-around is needed.
I don’t have much Cessna time (all PA-28 variants) and I don’t fiddle much with the trim on short-final and never in the flare. Which is why the comment surprised me.
I’ve been thinking about buying an airplane and the 182 is on the short list. Any other squawks a buyer should know about?
I understand what Aviation Consumer was getting at, but they either didn’t phrase it very well, or they just don’t have much Skylane time.
The C182 has a heavy nose, owing to 6-cylinder O-470 engine and sizeable constant speed prop hanging out there. The situation is made worse by the typical loading configuration (two people up front, nobody in back), which leads to a forward-ish C.G. location. Pilots who use poor technique can and do land them nose-first. Early 182s fell victim to bent firewalls because of these nosegear first landings. Later 182s have a beef-up kit installed. You can see a diagonal “I-beam” installed on the firewall to strengthen it. You’ll also find this on a lot of older 182s if they’ve experienced a wrinkled firewall in the past.
In my mind, the problem stems from poor pilot technique. Many people never really learn to land an airplane properly and don’t take care to ensure a solid mains-first landing. This may be okay in a Skyhawk or Cherokee, but when they transition to the Skylane, this manifests itself in nose first landings, as the pilot never really learned to give appropriate respect to the fragile nature of nosewheel assemblies. The nosegear is attached to the engine mount, which is in turn mounted to the firewall. Make a hard landing on that poor nosewheel, and the weakest part will give. The firewall is often that part.
Prop strikes, while possible, are rare because the nosegear assembly is designed to prevent a prop strike even when the nose strut is flat — a certain amount of clearance is built into the design. Anyway, because of this heaviness, many pilots learn to trim the airplane nose-up on final approach so they don’t have to pull so hard on the yoke in the flare. I subscribe to this method and used it for years with no problems. Could I just strong-arm it? Sure, but then I lose the subtle tactile feel I want when landing the airplane.
The reader is correct in noting that with the airplane trimmed nose-up (and I used FULL nose up trim, to the point where I had to use forward pressure on the yoke to keep the nose down until the flare), you have to be careful when executing a go-around. Adding full power with the trim set that way will lead the airplane to develop a very nose high attitude. However, as long as the pilot is aware of this tendency and is ready and able to use forward pressure on the yoke for a few seconds until he/she can feed in some nose-down trim, I don’t see it as a problem. I practiced go-arounds with full nose up trim — a useful exercise no matter what you’re flying — and never had a problem.
On the other hand, I know pilots who simply strong-arm the airplane, and that’s fine if that works for you. Just make sure you don’t land the airplane nosewheel-first. Each person should try the two techniques and select the one that works for them. And if you do bounce it for some reason, don’t try to salvage the landing, just go around. The first bounce rarely breaks the plane, it’s the subsequent ones — often greater in amplitude — that do the job.
As far as other squawks, check for corrosion from loose sound-deadening pads. The adhesive was known to retain moisture if it came loose from the airframe. I’d also check above the headliner, in the tailcone, and inside the wings for corrosion. None of these airplanes had any corrosion proofing unless they were ordered with the optional sea-plane provisions.
Check the fuel cells for age and condition– they only last about 20 years and are about $1500 each to replace. They last longest if you keep them full, as the fuel prevents the nitrile material from drying out.
In the powerplant department, I like to see an airplane that’s been run, not sitting. Inactivity is the #1 enemy of a piston engine. I’d also look for any looseness in the induction system tubing (often overlooked in inspections), any rubbing of the lower cowling assembly on the crossover tube under the prop, and check the cowl flap hinges for looseness. Especially the right cowl flap, which gets beat up by pulses from the exhaust system. As previously mentioned, check the logs for any firewall damage.
Check the prop for overhaul date. It should be overhauled every 6-8 years or so. A failure of the propeller can kill you. If a blade or portion thereof fails, the vibration will be severe. Severe enough that it can rip the engine off the mount. Once that happens, the CG shifts so far aft that the aircraft will be uncontrollable no matter what you do. Constant-speed props are frequently ignored as long as they maintain RPM. It’s not uncommon to see props in service that have not been overhauled in 15 or 20 years. Big mistake. Huge.
Do a thorough AD search. And have a 182-savvy mechanic do the compression tests. They have to be done with the engine HOT, using a compression tester with a master orifice for calibration, and using proper technique. TCM engines are different from Lycomings in that respect. That stuff about a 60 psi baseline is wrong. You establish your own baseline using the calibration tool, and it’s often down in the low 40s! You WILL have leaks, the only question is where are they coming from. If it’s past the rings, fine. If it’s coming through the exhaust valve, that’s a problem.
Overall, the 182 is probably the best plane out there. It represents the best combination of useful load, wide CG range, cabin size, aftermarket support, STC availability, and low acquisition (and insurance!) cost of any airplane in existance. It also has impressive short field capability, low speed performance, great climb rate, and outstanding visibility. The O-470 is a phenominal engine. Smooth, powerful, dependable, and easy to maintain.
You can’t go wrong with a Skylane, trust me.
A final note: if you’re in the Socal area, I highly recommend Dave Palacios of DP-Air for your prebuy. He knows Skylanes, and owns one himself. http://www.dpair.net/ Dave did the work on my Skylane for several years, including replacing the aforementioned fuel cells, a dirty and difficult job.