Online Community of Zenith Builders and Flyers
Kevin Perreau suffered an engine failure recently (AM-15). Fortunately, he is fine and the airplane is repairable.
I hope both Kevin and Mark will comment here on the cause, and what can be done to prevent this from happening to anyone else.
Hopefully, the discussion can happen in a civil way. These things have a habit of being emotional and very quickly getting out of hand.
I have been watching Kevin's situation on Facebook. I also followed Andy Stewart on YouTube. Looks like Kevin's problem was predictable if you read the installation manual and took notes, but you had to pay close attention. There is a "warning" in the installation manual, but not obvious as such. There are no specific "Notes, Cautions, and Warnings" in the manual. There are also no timely airworthiness directives addressing recent issues. I don't want to knock the product - I hope to fly with an AM15 soon, but the interface needs to improve. Facebook is an awful forum for disseminating critical information.
I agree with Van Lovett. Facebook is not a reliable place to disseminate this type of information. If I hadn't seen this posted here I would not have known to go looking for it. I believe I have the newer version fuel rail but I'm taking any and every precaution available to keep my airplane safe. Thanks for posting here Ken.
The one and only reason I am on Facebook is for the Aeromomentum Group. I find Facebook almost impossible to read. To me it is a scattered mess, difficult to navigate. Today I must have clicked on the magic button because I got a lot more information than I had in past visits.
Here's what I have been able to glean so far. Please do not consider any of this to be authoritative, as it is just the best I can get from the mess that is Facebook.
1. The engine failure was caused by a broken bracket that secures the fuel rail.
2. Mark is claiming the underlying cause was not weak brackets but rather Kevin hanging stuff off the fuel rail.
3. Kevin seems to dismiss this as a cause.
4. Mark noted that the stuff hanging off was almost certainly vibrating from the wind and caused the cracking of the bracket.
5. Another user said both of his brackets were cracked (but had not yet failed) and that he did not have anything at all hanging off the fuel rail.
6. Mark noted that this user had not properly secured their fuel lines, which connect to the rail, and that could also cause the brackets to fail.
7. Mark said they are making stronger brackets to address less than perfect installation techniques by the end users.
8. There was some mention that perhaps there were two iterations of brackets and two iterations of fuel rails, but Facebook is so messy and these communications are so informal, I am really at a loss as to what was actually being said on these two topics
9. A couple of users noted that there had been airworthiness issues in the past and that Aeromomentum had dropped the ball insofar as making users aware.
10. Mark has agreed that a better system for communicating is needed, but I don't think he committed to a special page on his website. Indeed, he seemed to deliberately not address that suggestion.
Again, this is just what I have been able to extract from Facebook as someone who is utterly unschooled in using Facebook.
The only thing that is clear to me is that Aeromomentum needs to do something other than what they have been doing with regards to making sure that ALL users are aware of serious airworthiness issues, and how to correct them.
Others noted, and I agree, that what makes consummate sense is for Aeromomentum to have a page on their website dedicated to clearly listing in logical sequence all past, present and future issues, along with how they are to be resolved. It seems so simple.
It would be really easy for them to just add it to their existing website. In fact they have a couple of vague updates on there where the online manuals are. I'm pretty sure I'm ok on the fuel rail issue because my brackets are way more robust. Nudging the root cause onto improper use or installation is not a good direction to go in(my opinion). Who doesn't try to tidy their wires and hoses up by ziptying to every possible loop and bracket. I read the same facebook posts grudgingly because of my own bad sentiments towards the platform itself. I still need parts from AM to complete my plane so I want to be in the best possible standing with the company as small as it may be. But if there was a suggestion box I'd have to mention Mark's approach to these situations. It's a good product. I hope he takes the criticism constructively.
So, are there indeed two iterations of the fuel rail and brackets?
I was looking at mine but I did not have my computer with me so I couldn´t compare it to the Facebook pics, but it seemed like my fuel rail setup was different than Kevin's.
I agree it seems to be a good product, and that Mark generally provides really good support.
I'm confident that he will supply stronger brackets, but at this point I don't even understand whether or not my engine is even affected.
Anybody have close up photos of the fuel rails in question?
The AM13 is Suzuki-based, anyone know the pedigree of the AM15?
They are essentially the same engine. The new rail and bracket are thick cast pieces. They almost look like one piece. They best pictures are still on the Facebook page until someone posts them here. I will try and get pictures of mine and put them here if I can remember to.
If anyone has a picture of the bracket, I can show you why it failed. I saw 2 of the brackets at Sun n Fun and the failure is actually built into the bracket by they way they are bent to shape.