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Digital Fuel Gauges


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I can't seem to find any digital fuel gauges out there that are STC'd for a R44. I am always carrying a full load and it would be really nice to really make sure I'm not over max gross weight and putting undue stress on the helicopter. The owner of the 44 says he has Shadid digital fuel gauges in his Bonanza and says they work great, but I am unable to find anything for Robinsons. Any comments or suggestions would be much appreciated. Thanks in advance.

 

-Cliff

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If you are that worried about the last gallon of fuel, do you weigh each passenger with their cameras, handbags etc on scales that are regularly checked for accuracy? Or do you glance at a passenger and say, "Yeah, you look like a normal pax weight of 77kg or whatever."

 

Fuel gauges are notoriously inaccurate, the needle width and perspective angle make a huge difference to the readings. But plus or minus 20 lb of fuel doesn't make much difference if the pax sneak their 20 lb handbag on board.

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I had a Schweizer 300C and put a Shadin in it. I believe we used a field approval and it worked very well. Extremely accurate and since it was wired into the GPS (a portable Garmin 296) it gave a lot of good information - such as remaining fuel when you reach your destination (based only on your current fuel burn and groundspeed), miles per gallon (pretty cool to make power/speed changes and see the changes in mpg) and then it was nice to use when making less than top-off fuelings, etc.

I have a Bell 206B3 that I also put a Shadin into and it works great. Highly recommended, very accurate and never hurts to have another fuel metering/guaging system. It is wired into the Garmin GNS 430.

Also, I have found that not all fuel retailers are the same and even the fuel truck meters are different within a single FBO. Had one that consistantly pumped 7% less fuel than I thought (and paid for!) which meant I was leaving with less fuel than I had planned. Also found certain trucks that would give me more fuel than the meter showed. One FBO had a truck that always gave me about 10% extra fuel - kind of strange, you'd think they would catch it on their truck refueling & accounting...

So, maybe you can get a field approval on the R44. Seems odd that nobody hasn't done it yet??? One thing, you have got to be sure of is that all the components are of adequate size so there is no flow restriction that could mess up the mixture settings, etc. It would make little sense to add a "safety device" that somehow raised your risk level. Just don't want to be a test pilot with the fuel system. The 300C and the Bell 206B3 already had many Shadin systems installed.

My two bits...

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If you are that worried about the last gallon of fuel, do you weigh each passenger with their cameras, handbags etc on scales that are regularly checked for accuracy? Or do you glance at a passenger and say, "Yeah, you look like a normal pax weight of 77kg or whatever."

 

Fuel gauges are notoriously inaccurate, the needle width and perspective angle make a huge difference to the readings. But plus or minus 20 lb of fuel doesn't make much difference if the pax sneak their 20 lb handbag on board.

 

Actually yes I did weigh each of my pax when we got the R44 three months ago and then I add about 5lb per person for their brief cases. It would be kind of hard for them to sneak anything on the R44 since I'm standing right next to the helicopter when we load up.

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I had a Schweizer 300C and put a Shadin in it. I believe we used a field approval and it worked very well. Extremely accurate and since it was wired into the GPS (a portable Garmin 296) it gave a lot of good information - such as remaining fuel when you reach your destination (based only on your current fuel burn and groundspeed), miles per gallon (pretty cool to make power/speed changes and see the changes in mpg) and then it was nice to use when making less than top-off fuelings, etc.

I have a Bell 206B3 that I also put a Shadin into and it works great. Highly recommended, very accurate and never hurts to have another fuel metering/guaging system. It is wired into the Garmin GNS 430.

Also, I have found that not all fuel retailers are the same and even the fuel truck meters are different within a single FBO. Had one that consistantly pumped 7% less fuel than I thought (and paid for!) which meant I was leaving with less fuel than I had planned. Also found certain trucks that would give me more fuel than the meter showed. One FBO had a truck that always gave me about 10% extra fuel - kind of strange, you'd think they would catch it on their truck refueling & accounting...

So, maybe you can get a field approval on the R44. Seems odd that nobody hasn't done it yet??? One thing, you have got to be sure of is that all the components are of adequate size so there is no flow restriction that could mess up the mixture settings, etc. It would make little sense to add a "safety device" that somehow raised your risk level. Just don't want to be a test pilot with the fuel system. The 300C and the Bell 206B3 already had many Shadin systems installed.

My two bits...

 

Lots of great info bp. I appreciate it. I have the Garmin 420 in the R44 as well and it's great, I just put in 16gph, and the amount of fuel (I think) I have on board and it does a good job. I just want to know for sure how much fuel I have on board because like you said, fuel trucks, self serve pumps, etc will all be slightly different. I've thought of making some fuel sticks but got to thinking, everytime I put that stick in the tank I run the risk of contaminating the fuel. I've been trying to contact my A&P to see if he has any thought too. I hoped that I could find a "Robinson ready" stc'd fuel gauge but of course it's never that easy. I'll look into that Shadin gauge and see what I can find out. Thanks alot for the reply.

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I can't seem to find any digital fuel gauges out there that are STC'd for a R44. I am always carrying a full load and it would be really nice to really make sure I'm not over max gross weight and putting undue stress on the helicopter. The owner of the 44 says he has Shadid digital fuel gauges in his Bonanza and says they work great, but I am unable to find anything for Robinsons. Any comments or suggestions would be much appreciated. Thanks in advance.

 

-Cliff

 

A digital gage would be nice. We made a manual fuel stick for an R44. Using a dowel and filling the tank with a couple gallons at a time. We marked the stick and kept it under the seat. Granted, it is only useful when you are on the ground and you have to manually dip the tank, but it was very accurate. We operated the R44astro in the mountains and every gallon counted.

 

Marc D.

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... I've thought of making some fuel sticks but got to thinking, everytime I put that stick in the tank I run the risk of contaminating the fuel. ...

Here is one source for the Universal Fuel Hawk dip-stick. Consider where/how to store it to keep it clean yet available.

 

A cautionary tale with

Safety Recommendations

...

2. Operators and pilots of R22 helicopters should consider the use of simple calibrated dip stick to verify fuel contents, due to the difficulty of visually checking the tank contents of this aircraft. (SR 18 of 1999)

3. The manufacturer of the R22 should consider the provision of a fuel contents dip-stick for the R22, or alternatively should adopt the use of the tool used in the UK. (SR 19 of 1999)

...from Ireland: Accident: Robinson R22B, EI-TKI, Hazelwood Sligo, 1 Aug 1997: Report No 1999-007

 

BUT, be sure to review your fuel tank anatomy and geometry before sticking. There are potentially delicate structures on the interior bottom, and the tank(s) are not symmetrical which can lead to false assumptions. And of course fuel burn rates are not provided in the POH leaving us to rely on "tribal knowledge".

 

I came across an interesting little training demo: R22 Fuel System Tutorial

 

YMMV

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