April 2019

Download The Full April 2019 Issue PDF

Subscribers Only - This issue likely will hit your mailbox just before the Sun ’n Fun International Fly-In Expo in Lakeland, Fla. The annual event informally kicks off each year’s air show season, and 2019 will be no different. If you plan to attend SnF or any other fly-in event (cough, EAA AirVenture, cough), you’re not alone. In fact, thousands of your closest friends are planning the same thing, and we’ll all want to arrive and depart at more less the same time.

Odds And Ends

This issue likely will hit your mailbox just before the Sun ’n Fun International Fly-In Expo in Lakeland, Fla. The annual event informally kicks off each year’s air show season, and 2019 will be no different. If you plan to attend SnF or any other fly-in event (cough, EAA AirVenture, cough), you’re not alone. In fact, thousands of your closest friends are planning the same thing, and we’ll all want to arrive and depart at more less the same time.

Disoriented Scans

Fine article about bounced landings. Preventing them should be primary but when we do get a bounce, for some airplanes the recommendation is not to save the landing but just to go around. A number of years ago, there was a series of fatal Cirrus bounced landing accidents. I’m not sure if there were official findings that gave common cause, but one theory was that the fixed landing gear acted like a pogo stick and was unforgiving of too much energy on touchdown. The finesse that you describe to salvage this type of bounce was not easily done by some pilots.

Survive Inadvertent IMC The Old-Fashioned Way

Subscribers Only - if you’ve been around general aviation for any time at all, by now you should not be surprised to learn that attempted VFR flight into instrument metereological conditions (IMC) and its close cousin, loss of visual references at night, consistently rank as the most lethal type of GA accidents. Although the numbers (thank goodness!) have recently begun to decline, about seven out of every eight—nearly 90 percent—of those accidents are still fatal. That’s largely because, as current NTSB Vice Chairman Bruce Landsberg puts it, they tend to end in flight into terrain, either controlled or (more often) uncontrolled. In both cases, prospects for survival are meager.

Retractable Gear Systems

Subscribers Only - The first evidence of a retractable landing gear design was in Europe circa 1911, but a working example didn’t show up on aircraft until after WWI. As airplanes got heavier and faster, meanwhile, airport infrastructure—which mainly consisted of an open field and a windsock— couldn’t keep up. As a result, some of the fastest airplanes in the 1920s and 1930s were seaplanes, even with the aerodynamic drag their floats imposed. By the time WWII erupted, the latest airplanes were equipped with retractable landing gear, even if in a conventional, taildragging configuration. Still, many long-range, multi-engine airliners of the day were seaplanes.

The Transactional Pilot

Subscribers Only - The advent of the direct to GPS button, which allows us to fly a straight line between two points, was instant gratification for efficiency-loving pilots, especially since IFR flights no longer needed to fly inefficient tinker-toy flight paths connecting VORs as long as ATC cooperated. But instant gratification also came with instant risk tradeoffs. The biggest of them is not obvious until you look beneath the magenta flight path where there might not be many, or any, airports.

Common Threads In Weather Accidents

In my view, there are four basic categories of aviation weather threats: low clouds and reduced visibility; turbulence and low-level wind shear; airframe ice; and thunderstorms (which may contain the three other hazards in one nasty package). When evaluating weather for a planned flight, I look at observations and forecasts with each of these specific hazards in mind: what is are the chances I’ll encounter each threat and how bad will each be? How close to (or beyond) the limitations of the regulations, my capabilities and the airplane’s performance would I be if I attempt the flight?

Air Traffic Awareness

Subscribers Only - Tom Turner’s February 2019 article, “The Big Picture,” highlighted for me that we should find ways to continuously improve the way we operate within the National Airspace System (NAS) and one way I can help—to give back, if you will—is to try explaining to pilots more about what goes on in the towers, Tracons and Centers throughout the U.S. It’s not mysterious or difficult to understand, but it may be different from what you have been told, or told to expect.

Aircraft Shipments, Billings Up For 2018

Subscribers Only - Last year was a good one for general aviation manufacturers. According to the airframers’ trade association, the General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA), global airplane shipments increased 4.7 percent in 2018, to 2443. Billings—what you and I pay for a new aircraft—increased 1.5 percent, from $20.2 billion to $20.6 billion. Meanwhile, worldwide rotorcraft shipments also rose—by 5.4 percent—from 926 to 976 units. The only disappointment in the year-end was that rotorcraft billings decreased slightly, by 0.7 percent, possibly reflecting growing demand for less-expensive training helicopters.

Single-Stage Go-Around

Convincing the airplane that you’ve changed your mind and now want to climb—at the best rate, by the way—requires adding power, arresting the descent and beginning a climb, reconfiguring the airplane and ensuring directional control. While the order in which we perform these tasks varies—check your POH/AFM for the details—we still have to fly the airplane as we accomplish them. That means we can be tempted to add full power when doing so is probably not what we want to do.

NTSB Reports

Upon raising the landing gear after takeoff, the gear motor continued to operate longer than normal, and the pilot heard an abnormal sound toward the end of the sequence. The right main gear was hanging at about a 45-degree angle, and the left main gear was not visible. The pilot completed the appropriate checklists, without change. The pilot declared an emergency and ATC confirmed during a fly-by that the main gear was not extended. During the landing, the nose gear remained extended and the two main gear were retracted. The airplane came to rest on the runway and the passengers egressed without further incident.

Passing The Ride

Subscribers Only - Expecting that I had somehow unknowingly blown my check ride, we landed, shut everything down and he informed me I had...well...passed! A bit confused but obviously glad I hadn’t actually blown it, I accepted the good news not wishing to open my mouth and undo it, and simply thanked him. I never told my instrument instructor what the examiner had said, only that he passed me.

Autopilots

Subscribers Only - While in IFR cruise at 4000 feet, the pilot observed the flight director command bars move out of view as the airplane started a gradual descent. When the pilot corrected, the electric trim started to run nose down and the aircraft’s descent rate increased. The pilot attempted to disconnect the autopilot and trim with the control switches and the red disconnect switch. None of this had any effect. With the turbulence and conditions, the pilot was unable to reach the autopilot and electric trim circuit breakers. After all other remedial procedures had failed, he shut off the avionics master switch at about 1000 feet and recovered the airplane at about 500 feet.