August 2019

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Subscribers Only - In fact, products designed for ADS-B have been available since shortly after the rules defining the standard and equipage date were made final. In fact, very early adopters of ADS-B Out might be getting to the end of their equipment’s life cycle, and once again find themselves in the hardware market. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that they have more choices today, often with improved features and less expense, than 10 years ago. That’s a feature of competitive markets.

Laters And Waiters

In the decade-plus since the coming ADS-B mandate became a thing for U.S. aviation, those whose operations will be affected have fallen mainly into two camps: early adopters and those who put it off as long as possible. In this binary world, I freely admit to being something of an early adopter. And despite some cool—and less expensive—new gear on the market, I’m happy with my choice to equip with ADS-B in 2016. It’s likely those who have taken a wait-and-see attitude also are happy.

Rusty Pilots

The weight of the engine is only significant in that it is part of the center of gravity of the aircraft, which naturally lies aft of the main gear in a taildragger. Therein lies the problem, especially while landing. That center of gravity, without interference, will travel in a straight line when in motion, according to Newton’s First law, which is often called inertia. It is imperative that we keep the airplane (longitudinal axis) tracking and aligned with that same straight line.

The Top Five Things To Get Right

Subscribers Only - Everything we do in life carries risk. An undesired outcome often is influenced by factors we can’t control—someone running a stop sign, for example, or a perfectly good engine deciding to fail. But many other risks of a specific activity can be anticipated. It’s why we wear a helmet when riding a bicycle, or earn our instrument rating if we regularly fly an airplane beyond the traffic pattern. Serving as a pilot in command offers many ways to increase our risks, but it also brings opportunities to mitigate them.

IFR Route Changes

Subscribers Only - Sitting around and talking with pilot friends, you hear nonstop talk about aircraft and equipment. Eventually, someone always brings up ATC in conversation. Pilots argue among themselves more intensely than Socrates debating Plato. One question that new and even veteran pilots bring up is why, when they file an IFR flight plan, that their clearance is usually never “as filed” but includes a route change of some sort.

Downwind Or Downhill?

Pilots are taught to take off and land into the wind, and avoid landing or departing with a tailwind. There is a reason: The performance penalty of a tailwind is much greater than the benefit of a headwind. How big a penalty? Go to your POH and calculate it. The most common figure is to add 10 percent to the takeoff or landing roll for every two knots of tailwind up to 10 knots. The specific penalty will vary based on a number of factors like runway surface, density altitude, and gross weight. Somewhere down in the fine print, you may see an additional penalty for runway slope. But often runway slope is neglected, because most runways are level.

Stumbling Around In The Rain

Subscribers Only - It’s not unheard of to think thunderstorms are only a product of summer weather, like we’re experiencing now in the Northern Hemisphere. Certainly they are more common in warmer months, but wintertime “thundersnows” are common enough that I’ve seen a few. The point is that we can encounter thunderstorms any time of year, not just in the summertime. The kinds of weather Mike Hart discussed in last month’s article, “Air Mass Storms,” principally are warm-weather phenomena, while thunderstorms associated with frontal activity can be experienced year-round.

Finding Pivotal Altitude

A long-time pilot-friend of ours tells a story about his first check ride for the commercial certificate. Everything was going relatively well until the examiner asked him to perform the eights on pylons maneuver. His response was something along the lines of, “Yes sir, thank you, sir, and what altitude would you like, sir?” The examiner ended the check ride and told him to come back after talking with his instructor about pivotal altitude. When he did, he learned that the correct pivotal altitude for a given groundspeed allows a banked line of sight from the cockpit directly parallel to the lateral axis of the aircraft to the pylon, a stationary object on the ground. Our friend went on to be one of the first pilots to fly the Airbus A300 in the U.S., for Eastern Airlines.

ELT Care And Feeding

Subscribers Only - The SAIB is focused on ELTs from ACR Electronics, Inc. (ACR, formerly Artex Aircraft Supplies, Inc., and Chelton Avionics, Inc.), models G406-4, C406-1, C406-1HM, C406-2, C406-2HM, C406-N and C406-NHM. According to the agency, these ELTs may not transmit alert and location signals in the case of an accident involving an aircraft to which they are mounted “due to an inoperative or a deteriorated G-switch.” The SAIB states that an ELT mounted in a high-vibration environment, “for example in the tail of a helicopter,” could have its acceleration sensor deteriorate after having been subjected to high levels of shock and vibration for five years or more. The new SAIB recommends best practices for the inspection, modification and replacement of these ACR ELTs located in high-vibration environments. In our view, these recommendations can be applied to similar ELTs from other vendors.

Flying The Big Engine

Subscribers Only - By the time a typical aircraft has a few years under its belt, it’s been modified from what rolled out of the factory. It might be additional or replacement avionics, a climb prop, vortex generators, auxiliary fuel tanks or a more powerful engine. It might be something relatively simple, like a ski tube or an external power port. For example, both my Beech Debonair and the Aeronca Champ I’m a partner in have seen performance-enhancing mods since they were new.

NTSB Reports

A witness observed the accident airplane at about 30 feet agl without its landing gear extended, and it was not extended when the airplane began to flare. Examination revealed the runway surface showed striated gouges and two long skid marks tracing the airplane’s path from the runway.

Navigation Failure

When we approached the centerline, she nudged me on the shoulder. I rolled the plane to where I thought the runway centerline was. At this point we were totally in the soup, and I was flying by training instinct. I saw the ADF needle swing to the rear, indicating we’d passed the outer marker, and I initiated a standard approach descent of 500 fpm, as I figured that would keep us close to the glideslope.

Fuel Injection Systems

After installation of a factory-rebuilt engine, a ground-run was performed. At all settings, the engine ran too rich, and adjustments had no effect. Aircraft was not airworthy. Removed fuel servo from engine, sent out for repair. Reinstalled fuel servo after repair, and engine performed satisfactorily. Returned aircraft to service.