Value of Various Safety Features for IFR Flight

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Here is my second post, about the relative value of optional
equipment to enhance safety. I am looking at adding one or more of
these features if not already installed in a 2007 (or later) Cessna
182 or 206, but their relative value is probably similar for any GA

The airplane will have G1000 with WAAS, and I will enable SVT. In
general, the limiting factor is that adding every safety feature
adds too much weight. I don't want to reduce the useful load of a
Stationair back to what I have in my Skyhawk!

Also, too much equipment becomes a distraction rather than a help
and takes your attention away from flying, so I have to make some

Here is what I am thinking about:

1) TAWS-B - Just a software enablement, so no weight issue. Do the
voice prompts help beyond what you get from SVT?

2) Radar Altimeter - Models from FreeFlight Systems are accurate +/-
3 feet down to 0 feet, and about +/- 3% up to 2000 feet.

3) Night Vision - Probably the EVS600. There are some interesting
videos from Cirrus, who now offers it as an option. Weighs less than
10 lbs. Benefits I can think of are you can see the ground at night
(engine failure), power lines for approaches at night, and it can
detect clouds at night to avoid inadvertent flight into IMC.

4) BRS Parachute - Drawback is weight. About 80 lbs in 182. Not yet
certified for 206, but will undoubtedly be heavier.

5) TKS - Drawback is weight when filled with fluid. Has anyone used
this system in actual inadvertent flight into icing conditions?
(Flight into known icing is prohibited in the 182 and 206.)

Thank you, as always, for anybody's help.

I just wanted to add that I have learned a lot from this forum and
really appreciate the service Phil offers (for free!) and the input
many knowledgeable people provide.


-- Todd Ramming, February 25, 2010


Whoa. It does seem as though you are ready for a Caravan!

You haven't said what kind of flying you're going to be doing. If it is mostly planned IFR in a non-mountainous region, I don't see the value of the TAWS, for example. If you're going to be flying VFR in a mountainous region and are concerned about inadvertent IMC, the TAWS becomes a lot more useful.

Are you going to be flying ILS and GPS LPV approaches down to minimums? If so, the radar altimeter might be kind of nice for that airliner-style feeling. If, on the other hand, you're planning flights to break out at 500' or above, it probably won't be useful. I've gone from planes with radar altimeter to ones without it and never missed it.

People seem to love those EVS systems, though I've never flown with one.

A 182 can fly pretty darn slow and a huge number have been landed off- airport with no injuries. So I would skip the BRS parachute unless I were regularly flying over extremely unfriendly terrain.

TKS works quite well, though icing will still be terrifying. An ice- free prop and a lot of extra power is what you'll be wanting and the weight of the BRS parachute will not be welcome.

-- Philip Greenspun, February 25, 2010

Todd, I have a 206 with pretty much every option Cessna sold in 2007. Here are my thoughts:

1. TAWS-It's enabled on mine. I fly in the southeast primarily, but two or three times a year I take it out to the Rockies. I purchased it out there. I'm still shocked there is not a way to mute the aural alerts. If there is an aural alert, you can rest assured that whatever you were trying to do is not going to happen until the lady finishes telling you to pull up. For example, coming out of a mountain pass into a valley to land at a towered airport, say SLC, and having ATC switch you over to the tower while the terrain lady is yelling at you to pull up because there are 12,000+ foot mountains on either side of you while you are descending to land is going to result in either asking Center for clarification or remembering the handy Play button on the Garmin radio panel. The aural alerts are LOUD. However, the overall terrain feature is nice to have, especially if the aural alerts extend to the obstacle database. I haven't had the inclination to test this with a radio tower or building quite yet, so I don't know if I would get any aural warning if I were about to hit a radio tower.

2. Substantially more handy - any capable active traffic system, such as the Avidyne 600/610 or the LG Skywatch that I have. Both VFR and IFR it's really, really comforting to know what other aircraft are around you. Especially for planning ahead of ATC traffic resolutions.

3. I'm not a big night flyer, but from what I know about night vision, if you do lose an engine at cruise, it's either too sensitive to be of much help as you look for a road with street lights (blinding washout) or too weak to be able to spot a good field until it's probably too late.

4. Radar altimeter: My terrain lady (in case you haven't guessed by now, the aural alert is female) warns me at 500 feet AGL. That's only slightly higher than the MDAs around here so I am comforted by that as a way to remind me that I'm closer to the ground than I am to MSL. I've never used a radar altimeter so I'm pretty clueless as to it's utility.

5. BRS - I'm on the fence with this one. I have also been following their 206 development with interest. I think when it arrives I will buy one. Strictly because I would fly at night much more often if I had something akin to a get-out-of-jail-free card if the engine died. However, my full fuel payload is only slightly better than a 182 as it is so I might have to think about it again when the weight figures are released.

6. TKS - Again with the weight (and expense) for something that would have limited utility for the flat, relatively warm southeast.

-- Jake Stroud, March 18, 2010

I just sold my 2008 T182T so here is my opinion of the options you mentioned:

TAWS-B I elected to pass in favor the the FREE SVT that comes with the 2008 182's and 206's and includes enhanced terrain warning with no aural functions. If you want this functionality you might consider a 2008 model.

Radar Altimeter: I love them on older aircraft, but on a G1000 system I just use the minimums function and triple check the altimeter setting. I would pass on this one.

Night Vision: I have demoed the Cirrus with the night vision built into the G1000 display and it's sure to be a hit with passengers. On a Cessna I believe it would display on a separate flip up screen on the dash, which I wouldn't like as much. Kind of an expensive toy unless you're landing at unlighted airfields in the mountains of Columbia, then I would consider it the best option money can buy.

BRS: Another nice option over the rocks at night, but it's so HEAVY like you said. If having it meant I was constantly having to down fuel, I would rather have the extra fuel and the options it provides.

TKS: Beyond the obvious weight issue, any Cessna is still going to have a lot of unprotected surface hanging in the wind i.e. Landing Gear and they will pickup a lot of ice. I would rather pass and rely on my fear of ice to keep me from flying on days when it's expected.

One option you didn't mention is tip tanks on a 206. I feel they should come standard so the useful load would be more appropriate for a 6 seat aircraft. Not to mention the extra fuel when lightly loaded would help with the somewhat short range of the 206. If I was looking for a 206 that would be the first place I would spend my money on upgrades.

Also, I added the Avidyne 600 to my 182 and I LOVED it. Cessna's have such limited visibility compared to other aircraft and traffic spotting is often difficult. The Avidyne system takes the drama out of traffic avoidance. Just this afternoon I was flying a friends Bonanza and had a helicopter climb from underneath us just like that accident on the Hudson. I got lucky and saw it just forward of the wing root in enough time to react. This strongly reminded me of several close calls the Avidyne system helped me avoid... I really miss it.

-- Alex Baker, March 18, 2010