Every new Foxbat is delivered with a comprehensive maintenance manual, which describes all the service requirements for the aircraft. This is supplemented by separate documentation for the Rotax engine, including a paper logbook and maintenance manuals supplied on a CD-ROM.
It is important to understand that proper maintenance starts with effective pre-flight checks, backed by regular, scheduled maintenance as per the manufacturer's requirements.
Every new Foxbat comes with laminated copies of a pre-flight checklist. Copies of these are in the Forms & Manuals section of this website.
The aircraft is powered by a liquid cooled Rotax engine. One of the key checks is to ensure that all oil and coolant hoses are secure and not leaking before you fly. Although there are many stories of these engines running for a substantial period of time with no coolant, do not take the risk of losing oil or coolant.
After your flight, or at the end of a flying day, it is all too easy just to push the aircraft into the hangar and leave it until the next flight. However, when the engine is hot is often a good time to see any leaks or other problems that may disappear by the time you come to do your next pre-flight.
Aeroprakt recommends you take just a few minutes to give your aircraft a basic inspection to ensure you pick up any abnormalities early. At the very least, a post-flight check may save you a wasted journey out to the airfield the next time you want to fly.
With a new Foxbat, there is a mandatory 25 hour first service, when the aircraft must be thoroughly checked and engine oil and filter must be changed. This initial service is followed by further 25, 50 and 100 hourly checks and servicing, depending on the type of flying you do and the type of fuel you use. Be sure to read the manufacturer's service manuals for the aircraft and engine and become familiar with service requirements.
Having a metal airframe makes life easier and simpler than other types of airframe. Thanks to material stability, metal structures are durable and resistant to the external environment and, unlike composite structures, are not susceptible to structural changes caused by UV radiation, high temperatures and other weather effects - which is one reason you should never see a composite airframe with dark shades of paint: the composite can become unstable and significantly weakened if the surface temperature rises above 40 degrees - very easily done in even mild sunlight on an outback summer day.
It is impossible to overstate the importance of good maintenance - look after your aircraft and it will look after you!
Looking after your engine
The Rotax 912 series engine has an enviable reputation for reliability. Many, many thousands have been made and used in aircraft. However, just because it has a reputation for reliability doesn't mean you can take it for granted.
Apart from the mandated pre- and post-flight checks and regular maintenance, there are a few other steps you can take to help your engine stay reliable:
- wait until the oil temperature reaches 30º C before taxiing
- wait until the oil temperature reaches at least 50º C before engine run-ups
- on long descents, warm the engine every 1,000 feet with at least 30 seconds of power
- if the oil temperature will not stay in at least the yellow arc, consider fitting an oil thermostat (as recommended by Rotax)
- if the coolant temperature varies a lot, consider using a waterless coolant (as recommended by Rotax)
- change the spark plugs regularly as per Rotax maintenance schedule
- keep the carburetors dynamically balanced (check every 200 hours or so)
- based on type of fuel used, change the oil and filter at least as often as the manufacturer recommends
- try to maintain at least 4,800 rpm in the cruise and better 5,000 or more. Rotax engines thrive on revs!
Looking after your propeller
The Foxbat may be fitted with several different types of propeller, all 3-blade, on-ground adjustable for blade pitch:
- KievProp; composite with brass leading edge inserts (supplied and recommended by the Foxbat factory)
- WarpDrive; carbon fibre with nickel leading edge additions (tapered or broad blade)
- Bolly; carbon fibre with Kevlar leading edge inserts
There are pro's and con's to each of these but whichever one you prefer, here are some general tips to look after your propeller:
- ensure all three blades are pitched exactly the same; even ¼º difference can induce vibration, which will eventually damage the exhaust system and maybe even the engine gearbox
- closely inspect the blades during pre- and post-flight checks to ensure any stone damage is quickly identified and rectified
- when taking off, apply power slowly and lift the nose off the ground as soon as possible before applying full power. This will minimise stone damage
- avoid flying through rain. The metal (or Kevlar) edges of the blades will help to protect them but the blade inner leading edges and backs will erode with frequent flying in rain
- if you find vibration is a constant problem (even after balancing the carburetors and checking the blades are pitched identically), it may be that the cylinder firing order is synchronized with one of the prop blades. Try removing the propeller from the gearbox flange, turn it through one bolt hole, and re-mount to the engine
- keep your propeller clean and free from dead insects
- only use recommended cleaning agents
A22 spare parts
Foxbat Australia (and designated sales agents) maintains an extensive stock of airframe parts. These range from usable items like tyres & tubes and brake pads, through to propellers, nose legs and other airframe items.
Engine parts like oil filters, spark plugs etc are best secured from Bert Flood Imports, the exclusive Australian dealer for Rotax engines. Click here for a link to their website.