The other day I had a look at a homebuilt which a friend of mine is working on.
The structure consists mostly of high tensile tubing, about 10mm diameter (sometimes a lot less). The welds are generously fat but if one of them breaks, the strength of the triangulation will be lost totally. The frame is painted black so a visual inspection for cracks is not really possible.
Also the wing attachment bolts are about 1/4" diameter. The stress on them is in shear, not axial.
The pitot is not heated. While the type is obviously VFR-only, I have seen pitot icing (a drop in IAS of ~5) in VMC, however.
Are all certified planes safe?
The pilot is not safe if he needs a speed indication in VMC ;-) I don’t see that as a risk.
Other than that: I see aircraft on my airport all the time which I will NEVER fly with, not even as a passenger. A friend of mine has an ultralight helicopter powered by an APU . Looks nice and sounds cool … but WITHOUT ME :-)
A great many aircraft have welded tube fuselages and small diameter wing bolts in double shear are the norm. Those aren’t issues. What I think is more often an issue in homebuilts is under engineered engines and engine installations. As a kid I had the memorable experience of being a passenger behind such an engine and it quit climbing out. Since then I’ve preferred to fly behind conventional aircraft engines with their original ignition and fuel systems.
I will say that going 207 mph IAS in an 800 lb Wittman Tailwind more recently got my attention. The builder reduced the size of the wing struts slightly to match structural design criteria, as opposed to pushing it around the hangar criteria. There was no sound insulation and the exhaust collector emptied 3 inches below your heels. The rudder had very little self centering despite the builder adding aerodynamic wedges etc. 207 mph and Oshkosh prize winning quality for $25K total doesn’t come without some compromise. ‘Old School’ (i.e. not RV kit plane) homebuilts typically require years of development after the initial flight.
PS on one of my certified production aircraft the pitot tube is a piece of hardened, formed 1/4 inch aluminum tubing sticking out of the wing leading edge.
I see aircraft on my airport all the time which I will NEVER fly with, not even as a passenger. A friend of mine has an ultralight helicopter powered by an APU . Looks nice and sounds cool … but WITHOUT ME :-)
I rode my motorcycle out to Landshut one day and would like to have seen that. I wish I’d been there on a more active day!
The engine quitting is least concern in light and slow planes – an out-landing is and should be considered a non-event. Which of course does not mean no increase of danger.
And on my own pride and beauty, after folding the wings in place I secure them in place with 8mm steel pins (which are themselves secured with fokker clips) and although all kinds of incidents occur with all kinds of planes, I never heard of a Kitfox or any of its derivatives crashing due to breakage there.
Two points that do concern me are
-) something breaking in the engine so that the engine continues to run, but shakes itself to pieces, breaks loose (partially or in total) and falls off;
-) something else breaking off the airframe, due to vibration or corrosion or what not, a wing or tailplane or rudder
To both risks (which ARE more outspoken on permit type planes, I believe) a ballistic chute is a possible answer – I am considering.
… but I won’t be seen sitting in a helicopter, even when not threatening to depart terra firma – let alone an ultralight one!
Is getting out of bed safe?
That’s where the danger starts! Stay in bed and nothing can happen!! (The problem is that nothing is happening …)
Is getting out of bed safe?
Depending on the other occupant(s), getting out might well be the safer option.