enjoying the 303 Crusader

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  • #85093

    The Cessna T303 is a rare bird in Europe. Around 10 registered in the UK at the last count and a handful in mainland Europe. Their owners love them and logic is replaced by affection as we spend more than we should on keeping these superb aircraft flying. We do have a problem though. Under the rule of the authorities in Europe we cannot fit used parts to our aircraft unless they have been removed and endorsed by a licensed engineer. Any used part MUST have a history and a signed record of what aircraft it came from. That effectively prevents us from keeping our aircraft flying by fitting used parts from aircraft dismantled for parts in the USA. When American owners need a used part, a) because the price of a new part is very expensive or b) because there’s no more stock of new parts, they can buy one from a used parts supplier, have it inspected to make sure it isn’t cracked or broken and then they can fit it. We can’t. It would make sense for us to be able to buy a used part, have it inspected and tested and then signed off as acceptable. But for some reason, that’s not an option.

    There was recently an inspection required on 303 landing parts. A hairline crack appeared in mine and the aircraft was grounded. I had departed from a bumpy grass strip as we often do in the UK and even though the Cessna Crusader has a heavy duty landing gear, hitting a rabbit hole just prior to rotation probably caused the crack. With no replacement parts in stock anywhere I tried to have a US based company repair it and whilst they could do a good job, their paperwork would not be accepted by our authority. In the end Cessna kindly agreed to make a new part for me but it was complicated, it took ages and it was expensive.

    There’s a potential brake problem that has affected me and at least one other Cessna 303 owner in the UK and that concerns the transfer of brake fluid from one cylinder to another via a faulty or worn out valve. As I pressed the brakes, the fluid left the starboard brake cylinder and went into the port cylinder with the result that I still had braking on the port side but none on the starboard side. As I tried to taxi onto a runway, the aircraft continued to turn left and the more I pressed the starboard brake and rudder pedals the tighter the left turn became.

    I make a special point of double checking my braking during taxi and prior to take off. In addition you can check your brakes by applying them and pulling the hand lever and then getting out and rocking the wings to see if the brake is on or off on each side.

    I bought my 303 in 1990. I used to fly it a lot between France and the UK but since I sold my business, my use has dropped. I also fly a Cessna 172 once or twice a week and I need to find excuses to fly the 303 more.

    If you get a moment, Google Images G ROCH and Merlins over Malta. I flew G ROCH to Malta for the anniversary of the relief of Malta 60 years previously in the company of a Spifire and Hurricane. Now that was an exciting trip and a sponsor paid for the fuel.

    Always happy to talk about the Cessna Crusader. A great, all-round Cessna Twin and a delight to fly.

    Roche Bentley (G ROCH S/n 000129

    #105274

    Great post. Thanks.

    #105276

    Very interesting.

    Like the story here – http://merlinsovermalta.gdenney.co.uk/aircraft/

    #105285
    rwelsh
    Participant

      Roche, your parking brake valve is leaking. I would think your A&P/mechanic should be able to dismantle the parking brake valve and replace the o’rings inside. See figure 32-18 and 32-22 of the 303 Parts Manual for a picture of the parking brake valve. There is no picture of the valve internals, but it consists of 3 standard o’rings. I would hope your regulations allow your engineer to at least change o’rings, but that may be asking a lot from your regulators.

      #105313
      rtowe
      Participant
        quote RWELSH:

        Roche, your parking brake valve is leaking. I would think your A&P/mechanic should be able to dismantle the parking brake valve and replace the o’rings inside. See figure 32-18 and 32-22 of the 303 Parts Manual for a picture of the parking brake valve. There is no picture of the valve internals, but it consists of 3 standard o’rings. I would hope your regulations allow your engineer to at least change o’rings, but that may be asking a lot from your regulators.

        Yes, that is what we did before buying an O/H exchange unit. It is easy to rebuild but, painful to access and messy to clean up and bleed the brakes again…I’m pretty sure you can get an O/H unit with paperwork from a repair station if you can’t overhaul this appliance in the UK…

        #105314

        Thanks for the feedback. My brake valve was replaced and it’s all fine now but if the failure had occurred on the previous landing which was on a short strip with a right to left cross wind, a dab on the starboard brake to straighten up would have seen us turn sharp left off the runway.

        Roche

        #105331

        I agree, the Crusader is the best airplane I yet owned. And my family loves it, which is even better….

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