Home > VansAirForceForums

-Advertise in here!
- Today's Posts | Insert Pics

Keep VAF Going
Donate methods

Point your
camera app here
to donate fast.

Go Back   VAF Forums > Main > Safety
Register FAQ Members List Calendar Search Today's Posts Mark Forums Read

Thread Tools Search this Thread Display Modes
Old 09-15-2018, 07:45 PM
MConner MConner is offline
Join Date: Mar 2018
Location: Snead Island, Florida
Posts: 205
Default Avionics failure in IMC

Ok so here I go exposing myself to the flame thrower to hopefully help someone else avoid my SNAFU.

I departed In my -10 at night on a stormy, night IFR flight plan for a 50 minute hop home after a long duty day as a corpotate jet jock. I climbed into the clouds around 2000? climbing to 10?000? and upon entering the soup, the landing light was glaring off the clouds. I reached up to turn it off and grabbed the avionics master instead. The G3 and all three displays went black as did the com radio just as ATC was issuing a change to my clearance.

Luckily I had added a G5 with it?s battery backup shortly after buying the plane. I immediately went into mental reversionary mode and began hand flying while the G3x system ran through the reboot process. It was a long 2-3 minutes for the ADAHRS to realign and even longer for the Garmin 650 to join the fun.

There was never a time that I was not flying the plane just fine but I have spent a lifetime in the soup and with 24,000 hours, it still required me to focus on the G5 to stay right side up and on course.

My jet co-captain said, ?you know an inexperienced pilot could wake up dead in this situation?.

As a professional pilot, I am duty bound to review my performance and to be brutally honest to myself. The factors were simple.

1. I was tired. I am in my 60?s and after a 14 hour duty day, I was not at 100%.

2. My -10 has three switches next to each other, avionics master, nav/strobe, and landing light. With only limited night time in my newly acquired -10, the muscle memory to grab the correct switch failed me.

3. The lighting in my -10 is weak at best. The switches are not lighted and there is no under panel flood. I relied on a flashlight to ID the right switch and didn?t even turn it on as I was sure I had the right switch. (Did I mention that I am old and was tired?)

This episode had a happy ending mostly due to the instincts developed over a career of good habits. 1. Fly the plane, the damned plane, 3, fly the GD airplane.

I am adding lighted switches and under dash lighting.

I hope this helps someone else to stay safe,...flames on.
Bought not built
EAA 180
Reply With Quote
Old 09-15-2018, 08:03 PM
texdog texdog is offline
Join Date: Jan 2013
Location: Fredericksburg, Tx.
Posts: 338
Smile IMC switch

Been there and made a similar switch mistake. I was day when I hit the avionics master switch. Didn't take quite as long to recover. I'm 74 and have started giving myself more time to hit the switch. I think I flew my last corporate jet trip last month. We will see, it's been a great ride for 51 years flying corporate jets.
T82 Fredericksburg,Tx.
Don't make easy hard!
Master Pilot Award
RV6A owner N6711
L19 sold
ATP/FE/CFI 10 Type Ratings.
Reply With Quote
Old 09-15-2018, 08:49 PM
LNSelf LNSelf is offline
Join Date: Apr 2009
Location: Gardner, Ks
Posts: 96


I am glad you had the presence of mind to realize what you had just done and keep flying the airplane. Also, thanks for sharing your experience.

I bought an RV-4 with avionics master next to the boost pump. At least once I made this mistake, but it was a VFR airplane. I later sold the -4 and bought a -6a and did a complete IFR panel upgrade. I spent quite a bit of time considering equipment failure and potential pilot errors. Two things that I did that I think are helpful; I grouped all of the "master" switches to the left of the panel well away from any switches I would regularly be using such as boost pump and lights. I also have a backup battery on a separate switch to power one G3X screen, so it takes turning off two switches to lose all of my screens. If you are doing quite a bit of IFR, I would recommend adding an IBBS or similar backup battery to your primary G3X screen.

Levi Self
Owner/Installer at Midwest Avionics
Flying RV-6a
Reply With Quote
Old 09-15-2018, 09:00 PM
N941WR's Avatar
N941WR N941WR is offline
Join Date: Jan 2005
Location: SC
Posts: 12,887

This is exactly I insist that when people design their panel, they place the switches by phase of flight, not function.

I have seen more than one plane with the avionics master and fuel pump switches side-by-side. It always made me wonder how often they turn off the master when trying to turn off the fuel pump.

Happy to hear you are writing about it and not the NTSB!
Bill R.
RV-9 (Yes, it's a dragon tail)
O-360 w/ dual P-mags
Build the plane you want, not the plane others want you to build!
SC86 - Easley, SC
Reply With Quote
Old 09-15-2018, 09:09 PM
F1R F1R is offline
Join Date: Nov 2010
Location: ____
Posts: 861

I can envision a toggle guard going on my avionics master. One that can be closed and have the switch remain on. Thanks for sharing.

Last edited by F1R : 09-15-2018 at 09:29 PM.
Reply With Quote
Old 09-15-2018, 09:14 PM
rwarre rwarre is offline
Join Date: Jul 2007
Location: Wray, Co
Posts: 602
Default switches

Don't know if this would help, but on my rv I have toggle switches with a colored plastic over on each one. Red, green, etc. So my intent is to only move switches with a certain color. Red for instance is the starter, green is the master etc. For me it is kind of a safety feature.
Reply With Quote
Old 09-15-2018, 09:15 PM
woxofswa woxofswa is offline
Join Date: Sep 2007
Location: Mesa Arizona
Posts: 639

I have one screen and com on the master switch and the others on the avionics switch. The Dynon backup battery is instantaneous and a power loss shouldn’t cause a reboot.
Myron Nelson
Mesa, AZ
RV-10 N24EV
KITPLANES Contributing Editor

Last edited by woxofswa : 09-15-2018 at 09:19 PM.
Reply With Quote
Old 09-15-2018, 09:27 PM
N941WR's Avatar
N941WR N941WR is offline
Join Date: Jan 2005
Location: SC
Posts: 12,887

Originally Posted by woxofswa View Post
I have one screen and com on the master switch and the others on the avionics switch. The Dynon backup battery is instantaneous and a power loss shouldn?t cause a reboot.
This is a good point. The Dynon's give you a power fail message and 30 seconds to press a button to keep it powered by the backup battery. The battery is good for an hour +, which is enough time to turn the master back on.
Bill R.
RV-9 (Yes, it's a dragon tail)
O-360 w/ dual P-mags
Build the plane you want, not the plane others want you to build!
SC86 - Easley, SC
Reply With Quote
Old 09-15-2018, 09:54 PM
Ironflight's Avatar
Ironflight Ironflight is offline
VAF Moderator / Line Boy
Join Date: Jan 2005
Location: Dayton, NV
Posts: 12,548

Thanks for sharing the story, and for the debrief - professional all the way around - great job!

Here’s one additional thing for everyone to think about. Why have switches for the EFIS screens at all? In a modern glass airplane, you really don’t have an airplane (instrumentation-wise) unless the EFIS is powered. It’s just like in the old “heavy glider” - the primary computers were powered up any time the main busses were powered, and the only way to turn them of was to cut the power feeds (they were fused of course).

I always wire the EFIS screens to come on with the master - if I really need to turn one off,or power cycle it, I can cycle the breaker (you can do the same thing with a fuse if that is your choice of circuit protection). I frankly don’t consider EFIS screens and ADAHRS to be “Avionics” - I reserve that phrase for transmitters and recievers (Comm, Nav, Xponder).

The truth is, almost all modern electronic boxes I can think of can be “on” for engine start, so there is even a good debate if you need an avionics master.

And yes - I put my Master Switch far away from anything else, so I have to be really brain dead to accidentally power everything off. Which isn’t to say it can’t happen...but it is at least less likely....
Paul F. Dye
Editor at Large - KITPLANES Magazine
RV-8 - N188PD - "Valkyrie"
RV-6 (By Marriage) - N164MS - "Mikey"
RV-3B - N13PL - "Tsamsiyu"
A&P, EAA Tech Counselor/Flight Advisor
Dayton Valley Airpark (A34)
Reply With Quote
Old 09-15-2018, 09:59 PM
Schooner69 Schooner69 is offline
Join Date: Aug 2006
Posts: 102

Yes. If I was to build another RV, more time would be spent on switchology...
Reply With Quote

Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

vB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Forum Jump

All times are GMT -6. The time now is 12:31 AM.

The VAFForums come to you courtesy Delta Romeo, LLC. By viewing and participating in them you agree to build your plane using standardized methods and practices and to fly it safely and in accordance with the laws governing the country you are located in.