Columbia Aircraft Safety
Safety by Design – Not by Default
- Utility Category – The highest level of non-aerobatic certification requires that aircraft in this category must be capable of withstanding higher load limits and G forces. No other composite or metal aircraft certified since 1968 has been certified to the Utility Category standards. Other aircraft are only certified at the lower load limit requirements for Normal Category. Safety by Design – Not by Default.
- “No Single Point of Failure” is the safety philosophy that Columbia Aircraft airframe and systems are designed around. A deeper understanding of what makes an aircraft design safe leads to an educated aircraft purchase decision. At Columbia Aircraft our approach is Safety by Design – Not by Default.
- Redundant Spars – All Columbia aircraft have dual wing spars, 8 flap hinges, 6 aileron hinges, 3 rudder hinges, 4 door latches, 2 wing spars, 2 horizontal spars and even spars in the horizontal stablizer. Other aircraft may also have two wing spars but the Columbia spars are equal in design strength, length and structure. Each Columbia spar is capable of supporting the aircraft’s entire load limit individually thereby making this important structural element completely redundant. Safety by Design – Not by Default.
- Spin Resistance/Spin Recovery – Only aerobatic aircraft are certified to perform spins. However, each FAR Part 23 certified aircraft must demonstrate spin characteristics for safety. Columbia 350 and Columbia 400 models have successfully demonstrated spin resistance/spin recovery for their respective type certification without the need for a supplemental recovery system. Safety by Design – Not by Default.
- Wing Design – The unique shape of the leading edge is a NASA-proven compound airfoil. The outboard section of the wing flies at a lower angle of attack than the inboard section to improve aileron authority and low speed handling. Safety by Design – Not by Default.
- Wing Loading/Aspect Ratio – Columbia aircraft have the highest wing loading in their class. This design element directly translates into a more stable and comfortable ride in turbulence. Additionally, efficient wings with a high aspect ratio, like that those on Columbia aircraft, provide the best glide characteristics. Safety by Design – Not by Default.
- Carbon Fiber– Carbon fiber is a composite material typically 3 times stronger than aircraft aluminum. When you visit the Columbia factory, you’ll see a liberal use of carbon fiber used to help provide the additional strength that enables Columbia aircraft to achieve Utility Category certification standards rather than the lower Normal Category standards. Safety by Design – Not by Default.
- Lightning Coverage & Static Wicks – 100% of Columbia aircraft surfaces (fuselage, wings and flight controls) are covered with lightning mesh to effectively and safely dissipate the affects of a lightning strike without concentrating the tremendous heat into narrow channels of lightning mesh along the fuselage. Consequently, Columbia aircraft have earned the same lightning certification as all-metal aircraft. Static wicks on the trailing edge of the wings allow static build-up to be discharged safely without affecting avionics functionality or disrupting other electrical systems. Safety by Design – Not by Default.
Cabin Safety Features
- Roll Cage – Modern aircraft conform to FAR Part 23 regulations and are certified to much higher standards than older aircraft designs that have been “grandfathered” into their Part 23 certification. Part of the new certification standards require that modern aircraft have cabin integrity that includes a roll cage to protect occupants in the event of a roll-over. Columbia aircraft have an integral roll cage that has been tested to maintain its structural integrity to 3 times the force of gravity.
- Emergency Egress / Door Release – Protecting cabin occupants is paramount but so is the ability to exit the cabin if the fuselage comes to rest inverted. Columbia aircraft are designed with a unique emergency egress system that can be utilized by rescue workers or first responders from the outside of the aircraft. Safety by Design – Not by Default.
- 26 G seats – Modern aircraft conform to FAR Part 23 regulations and are certified to much higher standards than older aircraft designs that have been “grandfathered” into their Part 23 certification. Compare a modern seat to a seat designed years ago and the value of the new certification standards becomes obvious. Columbia aircraft seats have been designed, sled tested and proven to withstand tremendous force of 26Gs in a horizontal plane and 19Gs vertically. Safety by Design – Not by Default.
- Windshield – Columbia aircraft have a windshield that is a full .312″ thick (compared to other that are only .125″ – .250″). The additional thickness actually makes the windshield a structural element of the cabin and helps improve sound proofing. Safety by Design – Not by Default.
- Redundant Electrical Systems – Other modern aircraft advertise being “all-electric”, however the dual electrical systems on Columbia aircraft are fully-redundant. The critical difference between dual and redundant is that many aircraft with dual electrical systems have a lesser back-up electric system that cannot operate all standard systems. Consequently, the pilot is forced to make critical decisions to shed power, pull breakers and/or run a partial panel. The second electrical system on Columbia aircraft is a fully redundant system equal in every way to the other system. Thus either electrical system on a Columbia aircraft can start the aircraft and run all standard systems independent of the other electrical system. Dual 60 amp alternators, dual 15 amp hour batteries, dual busses and dual wiring harnesses ensure that an electrical emergency will not force the pilot to shed power, pull breakers, turn off critical standard systems or fly a partial panel in the event of an electrical emergency. Safety by Design – Not by Default.
- Flight Controls – A close inspection of any Columbia aircraft reveals that each aileron has three – not two – attachment points, rudder has three attachment points and each flap has four attachments. Thus a single point failure will not render the flight control inoperative. Safety by Design – Not by Default.
- Flight Control Rods – Aileron and elevator inputs of all Columbia aircraft are transmitted through the positive connection of control rods. Rudder inputs are transmitted through special cables inside two synthetic sheaths. Neither the control rods nor the specially encased rudder control cables require annual rigging adjustments or maintenance like conventional cable systems. Safety by Design – Not by Default.
- Rudder Limiter (350 only) – Another innovative safety feature on Columbia aircraft is the rudder limiter. An electronically actuated piston limits rudder pedal travel in the fringes of the operational envelope that may lead to an inadvertent spin. Safety by Design – Not by Default.
- Fuel System – Pumps and back-up fuel pumps have been the aviation norm for decades. Another safety feature that makes the Columbia fuel system unique is the fact that the internal fuel cells are protected fore and aft by the strength of the dual redundant wing spars. Safety by Design – Not by Default.