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rudix

Flying with door(s) open?

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Hi Everyone,

 

I am a new Savannah owner with a question, can the Savannah be flown with the doors open? Would it be better to remove them?

 

I have flown a Kitfox with the doors open and it works fine.

 

As a keen photographer it would be nice if it is safe.....

 

Thanks for the info!

 

Fly safe,

 

Rudi

 

 

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DO NOT OPEN DOORS IN FLIGHT!

 

It creates an unstable and potentialy very violent situation.

 

Recently I had a violent experience while opening a door in flight. I had installed a three-way latch system that was very secure, but when I closed the door one time I must have been leaning on the door a little bit, such that the rear latch didn't engage properly and ended up on the outside of the door post, leaving a 20mm gap at the rear of the door. I didn't notice this until well into a x-country flight and thought it would be easy to close. I knew there would be an outward pull on the door, so held the operating handle in my left hand while pulling inward firmly on the fillet at the rear of the window. Then carefully eased open the main latch, planning to pull the rear closed and re-latch. As soon as the front latch released, the door snatched open violently, swinging up about 45 degrees, then reversed and slammed shut so violently that the flange at the front edge of the door ended up inside the door post rather than outside. The inner frame of the door was broken in several places, but didn't break away. I continued on to the next airstrip, now with the rear of the door sticking out 80mm, and a bleeding arm from some skin that had been lost in the incident.

 

It all happened in an instant, but I did a horror vision of the door ripped off the 701. See details of that incident at StolSpeed Aerodynamics - Performance Enhancement for Light Aircraft

 

I know of others who have opened a door and reported that it just floated about 100mm out. Analysing this incident, I can see why it happened. I was pulling in strongly on the rear of the door, so that when the front latch released and the suction flexed the front of the door outward, creating an angle of attack generating a powerful lift on the door. This ripped the rear of the door out of my hand while the left hand was still pulling inward, now allowing the door to flex so that now the angle of attack was reversed, and it was driven violently inward by the airfllow. Hold your hand horizontal out the window of a car at speed and vary the angle of attack and feel the force, now imagine that force with size of a door......

 

This incident has demonstrated that the situation of an open door can instantly change from benign to violent...... Totally unpredictable!

 

Much better to install opening windows for photography. I've installed opening windows on my Savannah, that are easy to do and work really well. I'll be writing up instructions with photos soon.

 

I'll also be writing up a description of the three-way latching system. In the meantime be sure to use those little front latches on the Savannah doors. And always double-check 'hatches and latches' before take-off!

 

JohnG

 

 

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Hi JohnG,

 

Thanks for the info, wow, does not sound like something I would like to try!

 

I suppose it depends on the shape of the door and the angle to the slipstream how the door reacts. The Kitfox door simply floated up towards the wing, no drama.

 

I think the opening window would be a better option, I am looking forward to your photos and description, I know I will be doing the mod soon!

 

Thanks again for the warning, if I tried it it could have spoiled my day...

 

Can't wait to fly my baby, it is getting a new engine at the moment, it had a Subaru but after 3 hours the previous owner decided it was not working to well, now it is getting a 912S so should be better. I am looking forward to landing at all those little strips and open spots I always drool at when overflying in other planes.

 

Fly safe,

 

Rudi

 

 

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Last weekend a former Lightwing flyer told of an incident when a door opened accidentally. When the passenger reached out and grabbed it, the door caught the slipstream and was violently ripped in two, one half departing the aircraft..... Luckily it missed the horiz stab.

 

The point is, on any aircraft don't feel complacent if an open door seems stable and safe; it can turn violent instantly and unpredicably. Hold your hand out a car window at speed and vary the angle of attack and feel the considerable and immediate force. Now multiply that by the size of the door, and a much higher airspeed. Also consider that the propwash is even higher velocity than the aircraft speed, and turbulent. Makes for a potentially very violent and unpredictable situation. Three recent real life experiences on different makes of aircraft have demonstrated this......... Take heed and take care.......

 

 

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I don't open the Lightwing doors unless I have slowed to flap speed ,and deployed first notch of flap. This puts me in the 45-50 kt range and the door seems fine at that speed. Certainly wouldn't recommend it at 70 kts !! or even 60 kts.. I did have a passenger accidentally open the door once on down wind. (sleeve of jacket caught on latch) He was a pilot also, and had no problems closing it again prior to landing. Certainly an area when CAUTION is to be observed.........................................024_cool.gif.7a88a3168ebd868f5549631161e2b369.gif

 

 

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Guest Qwerty

My lightwing doors operate fine in-flight AT REDUCED POWER. I was even caught with a crook pax over tiger country and no bag....blaghhh. I briefed her, took her head set, checked her harness, reduced power, input some right rudder, opened the door and she threw up overboard.... it worked a worked a treat. She was a seasoned pax and was crook due to exessive Bundy intake the night before. I would not try that with just anybody.

 

What about Jabs, I had a door come ajar inflight and could not just pull it closed. I suspect that Jabs need their doors. Anybody have any info??

 

 

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Guest Qwerty

Nah, no worries, I just hosed down the right stabilizer and there wasnt much mess anyway. With a bit of a side slip the a/c was pretty much unscathed.

 

 

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can the door be removed on the ground, and then flown? has anyone flown a Jabiru with the doors off? i have had the door pop open a few times in a LSA. no drama. it only opens about an inch and the slipstream holds it there.

 

 

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Doors removed.

 

I think, in GA that individual aircraft are given approval to fly with doors removed, after appropriate testing. The only aircraft that I have operated were C-172, C-182, used for skydiving. With the right door removed they were both subject to a pressure variation or pulsing which was quite unpleasant. This could be completely stopped by placing ONE finger about 1 inch out beyond the skin of the aircraft at the front of the door opening. a small tab would do the trick. None of that is dangerous of course and Volkswagons do it with the quarter window open. I don't like the idea of opening doors in flight, (particularly TOP hinged ones).. I have done it with the Skyfox/ Gazelle as they are approved and just float up till they are about 4" off the lower surface of the wing, and I don't do it at high speed. I don't believe that you could rule out it getting up an oscillation, (low frequency flutter) as it is quite flimsy, as all doors are.

 

To close a door in flight that is rear opening, I have achieved it by flying at about 20 Kts above the stall (or what you consider a safe margin) and in the case of a RH door, keep wings level and skid the A/C to the right. (That is quite a lot of LEFT rudder and enough right aileron to stop the aircraft banking to the left). Pull the door and hopefully engage the catch. Better still if someone else can do the door bit. With most accidents with doors coming ajar, the distraction causes the pilot to fly badly and panics, when the plane is generally controllable, and could be flown to a safe landing anyhow.

 

Regarding flying with both (or One)door(s) off, it shouldn't be too hard to have a plane officially tested tro see if there are any adverse effects. In most cases, I would expect that the results would be acceptable and could be a change in the warmer months. I would like to see the plane tested though, by a competent person and officially approved. Any handling changes should be documented and available. Nev.

 

 

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actually the last time the door popped in the jab i was on 3 mile final to runway 11 at bankstown, and i just left it open until taxiing. never did find the cause, it hasnt done it for months now.

 

 

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Did anyone ever get a definitive answer to this?

 

Okay, so a really bad idea to open the doors in flight, but can the Savannah be flown OK with the doors removed?

 

(Re the pulsing mentioned by Facthunter above, it used to be common for jump planes to have the door removed, then a small deflector attached to the hinges, to prevent that and also reduce the blast some. On a C185 this would be strip of aluminium approx 50mm wide and angled out maybe 30degrees.

 

 

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Did anyone ever get a definitive answer to this?Okay, so a really bad idea to open the doors in flight, but can the Savannah be flown OK with the doors removed?

 

(Re the pulsing mentioned by Facthunter above, it used to be common for jump planes to have the door removed, then a small deflector attached to the hinges, to prevent that and also reduce the blast some. On a C185 this would be strip of aluminium approx 50mm wide and angled out maybe 30degrees.

Absolutely they can. I saw one with 1200 hours on it about a month ago that has had the doors off for most of that time used for spotting goats. It was a bit dirty inside though.

 

 

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Absolutely they can. I saw one with 1200 hours on it about a month ago that has had the doors off for most of that time used for spotting goats. It was a bit dirty inside though.

I should be learning to walk before trying to run....but that's good to know...)

 

 

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OK, different aircraft, but I have seen a Zenith 701 that was built without doors, so obviously they are OK.

 

I used to own a Skyfox and I think they were OK to fly without doors. They have a fairly crappy door latch and I had a door pop open in flight one time. After the initial shock they are easy to control. If the aircraft is flying balanced the door will open about 45 degrees and will be very difficult to close. All you have to do is apply a bit of opposite rudder and air pressure will shut the door so you can latch it. You can actually "fly" the door using the rudder pedals, making it go up and down at will. I didn't figure this out myself. Rod Birrell at Airsports Flying School showed me the trick. This works on Skyfoxes and Gazelles and I guess (but don't know) that it will work on similar aircraft.

 

Peter

 

 

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OK, different aircraft, but I have seen a Zenith 701 that was built without doors, so obviously they are OK.I used to own a Skyfox and I think they were OK to fly without doors. They have a fairly crappy door latch and I had a door pop open in flight one time. After the initial shock they are easy to control. If the aircraft is flying balanced the door will open about 45 degrees and will be very difficult to close. All you have to do is apply a bit of opposite rudder and air pressure will shut the door so you can latch it. You can actually "fly" the door using the rudder pedals, making it go up and down at will. I didn't figure this out myself. Rod Birrell at Airsports Flying School showed me the trick. This works on Skyfoxes and Gazelles and I guess (but don't know) that it will work on similar aircraft.

 

Peter

Hi Peter,

 

yes, they used to fly the top hinged door open and closed on Cessna jump planes too.

 

But it's a really, really bad idea on the Savannah, as the gas strut is at the rear of the door, so the door will flex and either slam upwards or downwards with great force, depending on which side the air hits. As per the (very old) post #2 above!

 

 

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I love flying with my doors off in summer. I have had two accidental in flight openings without incident, the first I we were not too far from home so slowed and put flaps out and came back and landed/shut door/ took off again. The second we were further away so slowed down flaps out sides lipped and shut it.

 

One thing that I think should be mentioned though, when flying with BOTH doors off i get a huge reduction in takeoff performance. Maybe not a doubling in takeoff distance but a very noticeable extra chunk of dirt is needed. Obviously some planes will be different but if you are experimenting make sure you are at a reasonable strip! (Obviously I am not encouraging people with certed planes to be experimenting, what I have said in this paragraph only applies to those aloud to experiment!!!!!!!!!!)

 

 

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This Stinson Reliant actually has wind-down windows! OK if you are only doing 70 knots I guess.

 

Stinson.jpg

 

I'm kind of envious on hot days though. That little gold-fish bowl on the Sonex can get pretty warm, especially on the ground.

 

Peter

 

 

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I vaguely recall reading somewhere that jabs are not approved for flight without doors at all. I think they rely on the doors to provide some structural stability of the fuselage.

 

 

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I love flying with my doors off in summer. I have had two accidental in flight openings without incident, the first I we were not too far from home so slowed and put flaps out and came back and landed/shut door/ took off again. The second we were further away so slowed down flaps out sides lipped and shut it.

 

One thing that I think should be mentioned though, when flying with BOTH doors off i get a huge reduction in takeoff performance. Maybe not a doubling in takeoff distance but a very noticeable extra chunk of dirt is needed. Obviously some planes will be different but if you are experimenting make sure you are at a reasonable strip! (Obviously I am not encouraging people with certed planes to be experimenting, what I have said in this paragraph only applies to those aloud to experiment!!!!!!!!!!)

In other words, the aircraft may fly differently. Yep, that makes sense too.

 

I wonder if deflector strips on the LE of the doors would reduce that affect too.

 

You say with BOTH doors off: have you tried just one door off, and if so how are takeoffs in that configuration?

 

 

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In other words, the aircraft may fly differently. Yep, that makes sense too.I wonder if deflector strips on the LE of the doors would reduce that affect too.

 

You say with BOTH doors off: have you tried just one door off, and if so how are takeoffs in that configuration?

Yes with one door off there isn't a noticeable difference (as in it still has good takeoff performance). Yes I think deflector strips probably would help.

 

 

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Hi IBob, I have flown the Savannaha no problems with the doors off, never tried with them open though. Have a 701 on floats that is always flown doors off, just in case! Just make sure eveything is tied down well inside the cockpit otherwise it will be out the door in a flash.

 

Cheers Ian

 

 

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