August 2016

Download the Full August 2016 Issue PDF

Subscribers Only - When I did my primary training, terms and concepts like aeronautical decision-making and risk mitigation weren’t in the study materials. There was little formal assessment of the student’s ability to understand the challenges a particular flight might pose. Instead, the focus was on understanding things like regulations, flight planning, how to interpret various weather information and how to fly the airplane through various maneuvers, and to and from different surfaces. If the weather sucked, you didn’t fly. If the airplane was broken, you didn’t fly.

Go West, Young Man

Subscribers Only - I recently reconnected with an old friend, someone whose interest in flying I can legitimately claim to have sparked back in the days when we were just-out-of-college roommates. I took him for his first flight in a personal airplane, and he signed up for lessons later that same day. Today, he’s a gazillion-hour captain for a major airline, sitting on more type ratings than there are beers in a 12-pack. But we both remember when things were different.

Even More on the JFK, Jr. Airplane Crash

Subscribers Only - Your statement of the facts and reiteration of the NTSB’s probable cause explain the situation well. Missing, though, is digging into the true causes of the situation. Without examining them, it’s impossible to answer the question in your subtitle, nor to explain to those myriad non-pilots what really happened and why.

Rote Understanding and Flight Risk Management

I recently spent some quality time at a name-brand flight training facility, one which helps pilots at all experience levels meet their certification goals. One morning while waiting for better weather, I meandered to the coffee pot and found a CFI and student engaged in a frustrating-for-both discussion of risk management. In fact, there was violent agreement among them on the need to manage risk, but the student was rebelling at having to memorize various acronyms and explain what they mean.

IFR Behind a Glass Panel

Subscribers Only - Flying a personal airplane single-pilot in the IFR environment should be easier now than ever before. Most airplanes regularly flown IFR these days have some instrument and systems redundancy, a basic or better autopilot, and at least one GPS-based moving map and digital navigation/flight management system. All of these electronic displays and automated systems are supposed to make our flying easier.

Aircraft Tailplane Stalls

We don’t usually take requests, but a reader wrote recently to ask us about tailplane stalls, those involving the horizontal portion of an airplane’s tail. It’s been a while since we covered them in-depth, so now’s a good time to revisit that topic. Our reader wrote: “The middle of summer when it is 90 degrees outside is not when most pilots think about tailplane icing but I would like to see an article about the aerodynamics of recovery from a tailplane stall and I know you need lead time to do that.

Phone Flight Service or ForeFlight?

There are major reasons we need to obtain a pre-flight briefing for all our flights. Airports and airspace are dynamic, and temporary flight restrictions literally can pop up anywhere. Construction, changing operations, available services, closures and, yes, obstructions all compete to materially change conditions from flight to flight, even on the same day. And then there’s the weather. The good news is the recent revolution in electronic flight bags (EFBs) means all of the data we need is either in the palm of our hand or within easy reach, even in the cockpit.

Eichhorn's Flight Around the World

Subscribers Only - Somewhere back in the typical GA pilot’s mind is the idea of flying a personal airplane over long distances. Maybe across a continent, maybe an ocean. Or around the world. Part of the idea is visiting distant destinations and seeing foreign lands from the perspective only a personal airplane can offer. Another part of it is the challenge, which can be substantial; part of it is bragging rights; part of it is just because you can. However common the idea of flying around the world may be, the typical GA pilot rarely follows through. Whether due to time constraints, finances, lack of a suitable airplane or other responsibilities, the obstacles are just too daunting for the typical GA pilot.

Jump-Starting ADS-B

Over the last few years, there’s been a lot of ink in this and other aviation publications devoted to the looming ADS-B equipment mandate. If you’re just tuning in, aircraft operators will need the technology installed by January 1, 2020, if they want regular access to the same basic airspace where a Mode C transponder now is required. But equipment installations haven’t been keeping up with what industry and the FAA project as necessary to achieve the desired compliance rates.

Rated Pilots Get Easy Drone Certification

A new rule from the FAA on commercial drone operation was published in late June and offers some opportunities for rated pilots who might want to branch out a bit. The good news is the new rules allow even a private pilot to earn some coin by operating a drone without the pesky nuisance of getting a commercial certificate. The great news is it shouldn’t cost anything—just some time to go through a training presentation on an FAA web site and then do some online paperwork at another FAA web site.

Anticipating Engine Failure

Subscribers Only - Failure of a single-engine aircraft’s lone powerplant is something students train for beginning with their first instructional flight. If they continue to certification, they’ve studied the basics of how engines work, the air, fuel and ignition source they need to keep working, and at least some understanding of the signs they’re about to stop. Most trainers lack the kind of sophisticated engine instrumentation that technology has brought us over the last couple of decades, so many students still fly behind gauges the basic design of which can be traced back to pre-WWII automobiles.

NTSB Reports: August 2016

Subscribers Only - The accident occurred during an FAA checkride for the airline transport certificate administered by a designated pilot examiner. Following the accident, several fire department personnel spoke with the commercial pilot. When asked what had occurred, he told fire department personnel that the left engine had experienced a loss of engine power shortly after takeoff. He further stated that, following the loss of left engine power, the examiner took over airplane control and was attempting to fly the airplane back to the airport when the accident occurred.

Distracted Flight Checks

As election day loomed, I realized I hadn’t secured an absentee ballot. What to do? Fly home and vote, of course—any excuse for a cross-country. So I reserved the Skyhawk for the full day and invited a friend to join me. This was one of my first cross-country flights in a while. And it was the friend’s first-ever flight in a personal airplane, so he peppered me with questions as I pre-flighted the rental and got my act together.

Wing Bolts and More

During a scheduled wing bolt inspection, the left lower aft bathtub fitting was found to have chafe marks from contact with the clip on the wing fitting cover. One mark extended into the fitting radius. The manufacturer was consulted and provided a field repair to remove the damage.