IN SEARCH OF A BALANCED REPORT

Several months ago you did an article on the Symphony 160 (Symphony 160: The next generation trainer, July 7, 2006). I meant to write this back then, but it slipped my mind until reading about the company’s bankruptcy a few days ago (Bankrupt: Tiger and Symphony close doors, Feb. 2).

I owned Symphony #29 (out of 40 something made by the Germans). I owned her from October 2005 to October 2006. They are good airplanes, but they have their faults:

1. They are not too hard to get into for a young person. For people like my wife and I, in our late 60s, they are a bear. (The latest ones came with a step installed, earlier ones did not have that step.) Even with the step, they aren’t great on access.

2. Fuel: She only held three hours of flying time. While this is probably OK for training, it made for a lousy cross country airplane.

3. “Fuel imbalance:” Every one of them burned fuel unevenly (usually from the right tank faster than the left). To remind you, there are no fuel tank controls. They should burn evenly (in level flight), but they don’t. The salespeople have a standard answer when you question why there is more fuel in the left tank than the right. They say, “It’s because we’ve been in a turn (to the left) and the fuel has transferred to the low wing tank.” Problem is, if you go into an extended right turn (say eight to 10 minutes), the fuel does not transfer back, but stays in the left tank. Eventually the right tank empties and then the left tank feeds the engine. My airplane burned approximately twice as fast from the right tank as from the left.

4. Fuel drainage on the ground (only when you were parked with the right wing low). Fuel transfers on the ground so as to come out the vent line (below the wing). You lose fuel at approximately four to five gallons per hour. This is a real nuisance when parking temporarily. Most of us made some kind of “slide on” stopper for the vent overflow line to use when parked.

Here is my suggestion: If you are going to do a write up on an airplane, go ahead and take that free ride with the salesman. You’ll hear what a wonderful airplane it is.

Then get hold of somebody who owns and flies one, and ask them what they think. Maybe even go for a ride in the privately owned airplane for a real feel of the plane. From this ride you’ll find out the things that are wrong with the plane. Then you can write a balanced report (which is what we all want).

FRED WILSON

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