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Calling Rocket Owners!!!


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My understanding is that quite a while ago the FAA stopped allowing any field approval installations of autopilot systems. I understand that sentiment, but wish they would've used a but of logic. A full featured kit with envelope protection and similar complex functionality...sure. But that also keeps simple altitude hold and single axis systems out of the fleet, even though a simple system can be a tremendous helper for much of the fleet.

Having said all that, I see no reason a Rocket should be excluded and I bet your shop asked a question they shouldn't have, to someone at the FAA that doesn't know what they don't know and misinterpreted something. Or maybe they got the wrong tech rep at Garmin. Maybe they heard "Rocket" and went to the Rocket site and saw a bunch of turboprop conversions and figured that is what you have. Point them to the fact that it is already approved in factory 310 hp Mooney models and yours should be no different.

Keep working the issue with all parties and hopefully you'll get to the correct conclusion and proceed.

Sent from my LM-V450 using Tapatalk

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23 hours ago, Yooper Rocketman said:

My FBO says Garmin is specific in knowing ANY STC’s on an aircraft that is going to have their A/P installed in.  The Rocket is very specifically excluded from the approval list.  My buddy, the FBO Owner, is of the opinion there’s not enough airframes in the fleet for Garmin to spend the resources and money to get an approval, not actually a valid reason they’re excluded. 
 

And apparently the “Field Approval” is not normally submitted until the installation is completed.  That leaves him AND me in a pretty precarious situation, “Hoping it’s approved” after the $60k to $80k upgrade is completed.

Knowing of a previously approved “Field Approval” drops the risk down significantly from being the FIRST to submit for it  

Tom

Tom

The FAA very much recommends that field approvals be submitted prior to starting the work.  While I haven’t done one post COVID, and they are not like the old days, some FSDO’s work closely with the Certification Office on field approvals.  The last package I did was as comprehensive as a one time STC, but they were cooperative.  It included certification plan, approved flight manual supplement and ICaW.   Unfortunately there are still inconsistencies between locations. I hope you are able to get this done.  

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On 9/30/2022 at 5:27 PM, Yooper Rocketman said:

And, hoping to get back “on topic”, looking for ANYONE that’s been able to get a field approval on a Garmin Auto Pilot for a Rocket??

Don’t tell them it’s a Rocket. The registration still says M20K doesn’t it? Does everyone need to disclose what STCs they have before they get an autopilot installed. 

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10 hours ago, N201MKTurbo said:

Don’t tell them it’s a Rocket. The registration still says M20K doesn’t it? Does everyone need to disclose what STCs they have before they get an autopilot installed. 

Agree.  It used to be up to the installer to determine. Sounds like Garmin may have added a layer of red tape. 

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On 10/1/2022 at 8:51 PM, N201MKTurbo said:

Don’t tell them it’s a Rocket. The registration still says M20K doesn’t it? Does everyone need to disclose what STCs they have before they get an autopilot installed. 

It's up to the installer and the STC Holder of any equipment to ensure THEIR STC is not compromising a prior STC, or would be outside of the approval of their own product BECAUSE of a previously installed STC.  I ran into this trying to install a "Certified" (FIKI) TKS System on a 1986 Bonanza.  We were planning on getting the Tornado Alley Turbo Normalized system installed and CAV would NOT install a FIKI system on a plane with ANY prior mods (and they seemed to imply ANYTHING, even a thicker windshield):o.  We called Tornado Alley and they said install the TKS first, and they had no problem certifying their install of the Turbo System AFTER that.

My shop is protecting ME.  If I did this without the proper approvals, at the time of a future sale this could be called out as an illegal installation; being submitted as an STC (on an unapproved Rocket) rather than through a Field Approved 337. 

My shop has submitted to the FAA for the records of the Field Approval (337, not STC) of the Garmin A/P in a previous Rocket (identified earlier in this thread).  With that in hand, the 337 will be a really easy submission to our local FSDO.  Admittedly, they could have sent in a 337 on the "proposed installation", but every FSDO handles these differently.  Ours seems to be one of the more challenging ones. :angry:

Bottom line, as a result of this post and feedback, I can now proceed forward with my panel upgrade quote.

Thanks everyone!!

Tom

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8 minutes ago, Yooper Rocketman said:

It's up to the installer and the STC Holder of any equipment to ensure THEIR STC is not compromising a prior STC, or would be outside of the approval of their own product BECAUSE of a previously installed STC.  I ran into this trying to install a "Certified" (FIKI) TKS System on a 1986 Bonanza.  We were planning on getting the Tornado Alley Turbo Normalized system installed and CAV would NOT install a FIKI system on a plane with ANY prior mods (and they seemed to imply ANYTHING, even a thicker windshield):o.  We called Tornado Alley and they said install the TKS first, and they had no problem certifying their install of the Turbo System AFTER that.

My shop is protecting ME.  If I did this without the proper approvals, at the time of a future sale this could be called out as an illegal installation; being submitted as an STC (on an unapproved Rocket) rather than through a Field Approved 337. 

My shop has submitted to the FAA for the records of the Field Approval (337, not STC) of the Garmin A/P in a previous Rocket (identified earlier in this thread).  With that in hand, the 337 will be a really easy submission to our local FSDO.  Admittedly, they could have sent in a 337 on the "proposed installation", but every FSDO handles these differently.  Ours seems to be one of the more challenging ones. :angry:

Bottom line, as a result of this post and feedback, I can now proceed forward with my panel upgrade quote.

Thanks everyone!!

Tom

Your statement is not correct. The STC holder is only responsible for the modification to a type certificated aircraft that conforms to the original type certificate. They have no responsibility for layering STCs. That responsibility lies with the operator and the installer.

https://www.faa.gov/documentLibrary/media/Advisory_Circular/AC_20-188.pdf

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13 hours ago, 201Steve said:

That plane is awesome!!

So he spent $100,000 on a panel and it still has a warped glare shield......And it has an iPad on the right for an MFD. Interesting.

A 1987 M20K  Rocket with 903 hours on the engine (last overhaul was November 2005 - 17 years ago) and " Some of the cylinders are required by AD to be replaced in the next 120 hours."...and only $368,000.

And what is all this crap about "After undergoing her conversion by Rocket Engineering, she had speed tips installed, and a single piece belly"?  It (a 252) came that way with winglets and one piece belly from the factory in 1987,...unless of course it had an unreported belly landing!

Here it was for sale less than 100 hours ago

https://www.aircraft.com/aircraft/30203713/n252m-1987-mooney-m20k-252tse

You could buy this Rocket with TKS also, newly resealed tanks by Wet WIngologist and only 581 hours on the engine for only $185,000 - and you could spend $80,000 on the panel and still save $100,000 (and still have a warped glare shield like the other!)

https://www.controller.com/listing/for-sale/216891737/1981-mooney-m20k-305-rocket-piston-single-aircraft

Delusional. 

Edited by 1980Mooney
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2 hours ago, 1980Mooney said:

So he spent $100,000 on a panel and it still has a warped glare shield......And it has an iPad on the right for an MFD. Interesting.

A 1987 M20K  Rocket with 903 hours on the engine (last overhaul was November 2005 - 17 years ago) and " Some of the cylinders are required by AD to be replaced in the next 120 hours."...and only $368,000.

And what is all this crap about "After undergoing her conversion by Rocket Engineering, she had speed tips installed, and a single piece belly"?  It (a 252) came that way with winglets and one piece belly from the factory in 1987,...unless of course it had an unreported belly landing!

But it's THE REDSTONE ROCKET!! Unique and head and shoulders above all others, apparently due to the fantastic paint job by the good people at Redstone . . .  :P

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3 hours ago, bmcconnaha said:

Does the installation of a GFC500 affect the rocket installation at all? If there are no changes between a K and a rocket modified K with the autopilot installation i would have them install it and move on with my day.  

The Rocket changes a K (231 or 252) from 210hp to 305hp (45% increase) and adds a lot of weight to the nose. I would definitely think it would affect flight characteristics. (In 2022, with today's FAA, I don't think you'd ever get the Rocket STC approved for a K model.)

The GFC500 has never undergone certified flight testing with that power plant/CG combination. If you install it and have porpoising problems or flutter or whatever, I think you and the shop (ultimately you) would be on your own since Garmin didn't test it. Also if the 305 hp STC becomes (or already is) specifically excluded by Garmin for the GFC500 how do you sell it someday without going back to an autopilot that is approved, and technically, are there any? With two batteries and a battery board in mid-body empennage, does it interfere with where Garmin says to mount the servos, etc? 

I think @Yooper Rocketman is doing a great job making sure before proceeding. In this case it's much better to get permission than to ask forgiveness.

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47 minutes ago, LANCECASPER said:

With two batteries and a battery board in mid-body empennage, does it interfere with where Garmin says to mount the servos, etc? 


The battery board (made of plywood)is only placed in the empennage when servicing the batteries by sliding the battery box down and forward from its perch in the far aft.  It is absolutely needed when replacing the battery box by pushing the battery box (sliding it up the ramped board) to the farthest rear location.  If there is small interference with the servos but not obstruction of removal of the box, the board might need to be trimmed.

 

Edited by 1980Mooney
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7 hours ago, 1980Mooney said:

So he spent $100,000 on a panel and it still has a warped glare shield......And it has an iPad on the right for an MFD. Interesting.

A 1987 M20K  Rocket with 903 hours on the engine (last overhaul was November 2005 - 17 years ago) and " Some of the cylinders are required by AD to be replaced in the next 120 hours."...and only $368,000.

And what is all this crap about "After undergoing her conversion by Rocket Engineering, she had speed tips installed, and a single piece belly"?  It (a 252) came that way with winglets and one piece belly from the factory in 1987,...unless of course it had an unreported belly landing!

Here it was for sale less than 100 hours ago

https://www.aircraft.com/aircraft/30203713/n252m-1987-mooney-m20k-252tse

You could buy this Rocket with TKS also, newly resealed tanks by Wet WIngologist and only 581 hours on the engine for only $185,000 - and you could spend $80,000 on the panel and still save $100,000 (and still have a warped glare shield like the other!)

https://www.controller.com/listing/for-sale/216891737/1981-mooney-m20k-305-rocket-piston-single-aircraft

Delusional. 

Well, price aside, because I'm not buying it, but the sales pitch had me pumped! :D

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  • 4 weeks later...
On 10/12/2022 at 2:10 PM, LANCECASPER said:

The Rocket changes a K (231 or 252) from 210hp to 305hp (45% increase) and adds a lot of weight to the nose. I would definitely think it would affect flight characteristics. (In 2022, with today's FAA, I don't think you'd ever get the Rocket STC approved for a K model.)

The GFC500 has never undergone certified flight testing with that power plant/CG combination. If you install it and have porpoising problems or flutter or whatever, I think you and the shop (ultimately you) would be on your own since Garmin didn't test it. Also if the 305 hp STC becomes (or already is) specifically excluded by Garmin for the GFC500 how do you sell it someday without going back to an autopilot that is approved, and technically, are there any? With two batteries and a battery board in mid-body empennage, does it interfere with where Garmin says to mount the servos, etc? 

I think @Yooper Rocketman is doing a great job making sure before proceeding. In this case it's much better to get permission than to ask forgiveness.

Learned yesterday that our FSDO WILL approve the Garmin A/P, originally approved for an “unmodified 231”, in my Rocket,  in spite of it NOT BEING APPROVED for this substantially upgraded HP of a Rocket in the original Garmin certification.  It WAS DISCOVERED this will be the first legally approved installation of this A/P in a Rocket.  Thanks to the Due Diligence of my FBO for “dotting the I’s” and crossing the “T’s” on this installation!!!  It was abundantly clear the original Garmin Approval did NOT include the Rocket STC.  
 

Thanks to those supporting my efforts to ensure this installation was “APPROVED”!  After experiencing an NTSB Investigation in regards to my FCU Failure on my Prop Jet this past Xmas, I’m trying to take the “high road” on modifications so I (and future owners) are not subject to unauthorized upgrades that needed a simple review and approval by a local FSDO.   

The road has been “plowed” for others now to get this install done within the FAA Regs!
 

Tom

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STC rule complexity…  probably helps to be a lawyer or legal writer when developing an STC… :)

Big G has done a great job of covering nearly every version of the M20 line of aircraft… one model at a time…  some models take additional effort to cover them all…

This is where determining a “worst case” may help…

If all M20Ks were considered as a class… the Rocket being the most powerful, and challenging to control of the class…

It would be possible to test the worst case… and capture all M20Ks under that umbrella…

But… since the Rocket isn’t a Mooney Model…   A reset/start-over naturally occurs…

Rocket Engineering did a great job of covering everything when executing the STCs for the Rocket and Missile… including some quirky MGTW upgrades for a few planes that weren’t expecting to be covered…. :)

 

A properly planned STC program tries to ferret out all of the significant variables, and group as many models as possible together…

It must be near impossible to have the foresight to properly add STCs on top of STCs…. for the important variables….

An important part of STC programs… is the discussions with the FAA in advance… planning the work that they expect to approve….

Some STCs aren’t nearly as critical…  Rosen sun visors are nice, but their STC probably doesn’t have any technical interference with other Mooney related STCs…

 

Nice work Tom!

Thanks for sharing the details…

Best regards,

-a-

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On 11/4/2022 at 7:54 PM, Yooper Rocketman said:

Learned yesterday that our FSDO WILL approve the Garmin A/P, originally approved for an “unmodified 231”, in my Rocket,  in spite of it NOT BEING APPROVED for this substantially upgraded HP of a Rocket in the original Garmin certification.  It WAS DISCOVERED this will be the first legally approved installation of this A/P in a Rocket.  Thanks to the Due Diligence of my FBO for “dotting the I’s” and crossing the “T’s” on this installation!!!  It was abundantly clear the original Garmin Approval did NOT include the Rocket STC.  
 

Thanks to those supporting my efforts to ensure this installation was “APPROVED”!  After experiencing an NTSB Investigation in regards to my FCU Failure on my Prop Jet this past Xmas, I’m trying to take the “high road” on modifications so I (and future owners) are not subject to unauthorized upgrades that needed a simple review and approval by a local FSDO.   

The road has been “plowed” for others now to get this install done within the FAA Regs!
 

Tom

that is awesome! congrats , let us know how it goes ! 

 

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