From the February 2015 Issue

Old? Or Young?

Old? Or Young?

One of aviation’s enduring truisms is that a young, relatively inexperienced flight instructor is less safe than an older, experienced, grizzled veteran with hundreds of successful private pilot applicants under his belt. The presumption is that experience—perhaps having flown enough hours/years to make mistakes, live through them and learn from it all—somehow makes that grizzled veteran a superior instructor, one who doesn’t get into trouble with students.

But the reality is quite shockingly the reverse. When the data is crunched—which I recently did for a detailed research study—it turns out that young instructors are involved in vastly fewer accidents than their older counterparts, even though they’re responsible for more than 90 percent of instruction in the U.S. Although my study involved a fairly small number of accidents over a short period, the data revealed that between 2007 to 2011, if you died in an accident with a CFI, there was a 78-percent chance you were flying with a non-Millennial-generation instructor. I suspect most of us would find this surprising. I certainly did.


Current Issue

Working With Wind

The episode sticks in my brain to this day. A nascent pilot, I sat right-seat in a Cessna 210 on a planned stop, drop and hop flight to the Orlando (Fla.) International Airport (KMCO). The commercial and instrument-rated pilot in the left seat had her hands full on approach, with ATC and the tower threading her between jet arrivals. I was learning a lot just sitting there watching. When the wind almost flipped us over onto the taxiway, I learned even more. It had been fairly smooth at altitude. But the weather was post-frontal, and the ATIS described an easterly surface wind huffing and puffing at between 15 and 25 knots. The good news was there were plenty of runways at KMCO. The bad news? They all were oriented north/south. Landing at the nearest airport with runways oriented into the wind would mean I’d miss my airline connection.

Foreign Object Debris

Alone, I stood in the cordoned area looking at the remains of an F-16’s left main gear wheel rim. A whirlwind Safety Investigation Board notice two days before placed me in this hangar with a table full of junk; a damaged F-16 sat behind me on jacks. Quietly, I contemplated the pieces, methodically shifting broken metal on a table until I had a deformed, but complete, F-16 main gear rim. Within an hour’s time, I’d arranged the tire bits around the junk rim. Three days ago these were in airworthy condition.

Gadget Flight Rules 2.0

Nearly two years have passed since Aviation Safety introduced the concept of gadget flight rules (GFR) in the December 2013 issue. The original article examined using non-certified gadgets—personal electronic devices running appropriate software—to salvage a flight when your certified instruments fail. The conclusion was, yes, gadgets can provide backup, but the user must understand the novel ways they can help or hinder flight safety. Put another way, gadgets are only as good as our ability to use them; a safe pilot must know and understand their capabilities and limitations as well.

A Good IFR Platform?

Especially if we include Experimental aircraft, there are many different makes and models from which owners and operation may choose, each of them having their own set of features. Whether we want an aircraft to perform aerobatics, do aerial application, conduct training or even engage in cargo operations, there’s a model out there, somewhere, optimized for the mission. But all aircraft embody compromises: none literally can do everything.

Misconfigured

We’ve all performed a go-around at one point or another, certainly in training. Many of them are begun at some altitude close to the runway, when it becomes obvious a go-around is preferable to rolling off the end of the runway. In most of the airplanes we fly, going around can be a relatively simple matter. It is, however, a high-workload maneuver and can require some finesse.

Old? Or Young?

One of aviation’s enduring truisms is that a young, relatively inexperienced flight instructor is less safe than an older, experienced, grizzled veteran with hundreds of successful private pilot applicants under his belt. The presumption is that experience—perhaps having flown enough hours/years to make mistakes, live through them and learn from it all—somehow makes that grizzled veteran a superior instructor, one who doesn’t get into trouble with students. But the reality is quite shockingly the reverse. When the data is crunched—which I recently did for a detailed research study—it turns out that young instructors are involved in vastly fewer accidents than their older counterparts, even though they’re responsible for more than 90 percent of instruction in the U.S. Although my study involved a fairly small number of accidents over a short period, the data revealed that between 2007 to 2011, if you died in an accident with a CFI, there was a 78-percent chance you were flying with a non-Millennial-generation instructor. I suspect most of us would find this surprising. I certainly did.

Zero-Zero Departures

I read “Zero-Zero Departures” in your December 2014 issue with great interest. Like the author, I have heard over the years many of the same comments about zero-zero departures. They are risky, stupid, crazy, a death-wish, etc. While most of these comments largely are overstatement, unlike the author, I do agree with the naysayers: A zero-zero departure is riskier than a missed approach. The risk is in the first 200 feet the author with a wave of his pen dismisses.

My Worst Landing

Pilots generally remember their landings, sometimes for years. They come in two basic flavors: best ones and worst ones. Everything else tends to fall into a memory-based black hole. My best ones are too numerous to mention, naturally, but my worst ones stick around in my memory like poor weather at the beach. One bad landing in particular stands out.

Antennas

This VHF comm antenna was squawked for fluttering. Inspection revealed antenna was installed with no supporting doubler. Upon removal, a 5.5-inch radial crack was discovered around the antenna base, with a crack in an adjacent stringer. Skin under antenna also corroded due to no sealant being applied to base during installation. Part Total Time: Unknown

NTSB Reports: February 2015

Recent general aviation and air carrier accidents

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