Where are the expert answers? Unhappy reader tired of being told to “”look it up””

I am having a hard time finding any usefulness in your column. People ask specific questions and you tell them to look it up. As a reader, I would like to see some sort of expert answer to their questions. Like the mag check, what is your opinion (What’s the best way to test a mag, Oct. 6 issue)?

Yes, no, perhaps under certain situations. As your column is written, I have learned what I already know — you can look it up.


via email

Thank you very much for your comments regarding my column. It gives me great comfort to learn that there actually are readers out there who read and pay attention to my articles.

I choose to differ with your viewpoint about how I answer the questions presented by our readers. If everyone were looking for an “”expert”” answer, I’m sure they could find many of those at their local airport coffee shop or barber shop just about any day of the week.

My approach is to get people who ask very good questions to become self educated by reading the “”expert”” information that is available to them, and that happens to be in the manufacturers’ publications. This information is the best you can get and has been developed over the years by the real experts, such as the engineers and product support personnel, in addition to lots of great feedback from the people in the field who maintain your aircraft and engine.

For many years during my seminars I’ve been very candid that people in this industry do not read or take direction well. The best way to describe what I’m attempting to do is similar to “”give a man a fish and he’ll eat for a day, but teach a man to fish and he’ll eat for a lifetime.”” The key word in that statement is “”teach”” and that’s what I’m attempting to do by making responsible people research and use the valuable information that is available to them.

You mentioned my response regarding the mag check and thought I should have either responded by answering with my opinion — yes, no or perhaps under certain circumstances. Well, this is rather difficult when a blanket answer just won’t cut it. If you’ve read the Service Instruction you’ll notice there are certain criteria for various engines, not to mention the note covering the O-290-D2 engine model. Why would I want to voice my opinion when it’s all spelled out in the publication leaving nothing to chance or misinterpretation?

I think our industry would be much better off if everyone just read the information provided for them. I’d even go so far as to say I think it would make for a safer industry. Why rely on opinions of experts — or otherwise — when it’s provided in a manual by a manufacturer that holds the FAA Type Certificate?

As an aside, if you’ve ever been involved in any legal action you know the value of referring to a manufacturers publication where it’s there for all to see. Try doing that with some “”expert’s”” verbal comment or an article in a trade publication.

I trust you understand my position in this matter and will consider reevaluating your viewpoint, which may lead you to become a better informed operator and aviation enthusiast.

Paul McBride, recognized worldwide as an expert on engines, retired after almost 40 years with Lycoming. Send your questions to: AskPaul@GeneralAviationNews.com.

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