From the November 2017 Issue

Top Five Tips And Traps

Top Five Tips And Traps

It would be nice if economics didn’t force a lot of our flight training into a laser-like focus on getting through the written exam or checkride, and instead encouraged pilots to soak up what we might call extra-curricular aeronautical knowledge along the way. Some of things that can make our flying smarter and less risky just aren’t on the test. Learning them comes through experience, from a mentor or, if you are a really lucky, a seasoned, lifetime instructor with the time and motivation to go beyond the minimum requirements.


Current Issue

Ready For Winter

Having owned an aircraft maintenance facility, I’ve seen a lot of expensive damage to airframes and engines over the years directly resulting from improper winter care by the owner. Winter flying can be very rewarding and enjoyable for you and your passengers with the proper planning. But if winter flying isn’t your cup of hot tea, and your airplane will sit outside, you may wish to consider what you can do to make that harsh…

One Mile, Clear Of Clouds

Our freedom to fly is a gift. The FAA provides pilots with reasonable rules and regulations, and a lot of discretion to determine the proper course of action. Sometimes the rules are not applicable in all circumstances, or for all pilots and aircraft, so what may seem to be perfectly legal isn’t safe, and vice versa. In other words, pilots also are given the freedom to be stupid.

Into The Flight Levels

It seems to be an arbitrary cutoff, 18,000 feet. However that height was originally chosen, it’s the altitude that defines, at least in U.S. airspace, what we call the flight levels. There are a number of rules that apply to all airplanes flying at and above FL180 but less obvious are some of the real-world considerations protecting you and your passengers as you climb above 18,000 feet—considerations that relate to very real hazards.

Single-Pilot Jets

While most of us probably feel fortunate to be able to fly any kind of general aviation aircraft, most of us also have fantasies about owning and flying more expensive machines, including jets. A small number of us achieve that goal and obtain certification to operate small jets single-pilot. But the safety record of these operations is mixed. Some recent accidents point to gaps in the training and checking associated with single-pilot type ratings.

FAA Targets “Incorrect Surface” Landings

On July 7, 2017, an Airbus A320 operating as a scheduled Air Canada passenger flight and conducting a night visual approach to Runway 28R at the San Francisco International Airport overflew other airliners positioned on a taxiway and awaiting takeoff clearance. As we wrote in our October 2017 issue, “Runway 28L was closed at the time; its lighting was turned off and a 20.5-ft-wide lighted flashing X (runway closure marker) was at its threshold. The Airbus lined up for its landing on parallel Taxiway C, which had four air carrier airplanes on it awaiting takeoff clearance—a Boeing 787, an Airbus A340, another Boeing 787 and a Boeing 737. Subsequent investigation reveals the Airbus crew advanced its thrust levers for a go-around when the airplane was about 85 feet above the taxiway; the minimum altitude recorded on the FDR once the go-around was initiated was 59 feet agl. The Boeing 787 is 55 feet 10 inches high.”

Shelter From The Storm

I’m not a native Floridian, so I generally pay great attention to local weather forecasts when they include the words “tropical storm” or “hurricane” followed by someone’s first name. And because I’ve never seen such weather—beyond the occasional tropical low that spreads relatively benign wind and rain across the state—I’ve decided it’s a life experience I can do without. So it was in September with Hurricane Irma.

Good IFR Platform?

Thanks for Bob Wright’s article in the September 2017 issue, “Single-Pilot Challenges.” I wanted to comment on a sidebar accompanying the article: “What Makes A Good IFR Platform.” I agree with the author’s take that range, speed and installed equipment all combine to make an airplane enjoyable to fly in the IFR environment. Those lacking similar capabilities obviously can be flown on IFR cross-countries, but come with various shortcomings that may need to be addressed depending…

New To The Airplane

Even relatively simple airplanes, those with welded-down landing gear and a fixed-pitch propeller, can have complicated systems. Most of the time, everything works as intended by the manufacturer and all is well. On rare occasions, however, equipment failures occur. When that happens, it’s easy to say that excellent systems knowledge will save the day. The reality is somewhat different, and pilots often do not have the time or third hand with which to look up systems information in the airplane’s documentation.

NTSB Reports

August 1, 2017, Phoenix, Ariz. Grumman AA-1B Trainer At about 1300 Mountain time, the airplane was substantially damaged when it impacted terrain shortly after takeoff. Both the flight instructor and student pilot sustained serious injuries. Visual conditions prevailed. According to witnesses, after the airplane lifted off and was in its initial climb to the west, the wings started to rock back and forth. The airplane began to descend, struck the airport's western perimeter fence and collided with terrain before coming to rest on a road bordering the airport.

IO-520s

Beechcraft Model F33A Bonanza/IO-520 Cracked Magneto Impulse Coupling During a 500-hour magneto inspection, the impulse coupling was discovered to have cracks in its flyweight base plate. The cracks were detected using magnetic particle inspection and appear to have originated from the sharp-cornered feature of the base plate that forms the full advance stop. Slick p/n M3050. Part total time: 565.0 hours

Airports In The Dark

Over the years, I’ve flown in and out of a specific airport on numerous occasions, day and night. It’s a well-equipped facility, featuring a tower and a local approach control, along with scheduled service, multiple gates, two full-service FBOs and three runways. The nearby attractions are interesting when I want to stop, the food choices are excellent and the airport is a great choice for conducting practice approaches. There’s only one problem: I can’t find it at night.

Download the Full November 2017 Issue PDF

I’m not a native Floridian, so I generally pay great attention to local weather forecasts when they include the words “tropical storm” or “hurricane” followed by someone’s first name. And because I’ve never seen such weather—beyond the occasional tropical low that spreads relatively benign wind and rain across the state—I’ve decided it’s a life experience I can do without. So it was in September with Hurricane Irma.

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