October 2018

Download The Full October 2018 Issue PDF

Subscribers Only - By the time you read this, it’ll be late September or early October. In some regions of the U.S., that means leaves changing color, frost on the pumpkin and winterizing the house, the vehicles and the airplane. In other regions, like where I am, it means shutting off the air conditioning, opening the windows and putting a final close cut on the yard. Cooler, better flying weather, along with some seasonal challenges, likely will confront us all soon.

Familiarity, Contempt

Subscribers Only - If you’ve been flying for very long, it’s likely there’s a route you frequently use. It could be a quick out-and-back to the nearest $100 hamburger or cheapest avgas, or an hours-long trek to Grandma’s house. It’s something you’ve flown often and know well enough to almost do it without a chart. You understand the topography along the way, where the bolt holes are and how any weather may influence the flight. You may even have a couple of the frequencies memorized, along with expected ATC routings.

Potpourri

By the time you read this, it’ll be late September or early October. In some regions of the U.S., that means leaves changing color, frost on the pumpkin and winterizing the house, the vehicles and the airplane. In other regions, like where I am, it means shutting off the air conditioning, opening the windows and putting a final close cut on the yard. Cooler, better flying weather, along with some seasonal challenges, likely will confront us all soon.

Backcountry Culture

I appreciate David Jack Kenny’s take on the value of keeping up with performance and ground-reference maneuvers after the checkride (“Maneuvers,” September 2018). I’ve found that they definitely help me to build confidence when I’ve been out of the left seat for a while, and can quickly restore the “feel” of the airplane. The same is true when confronting an unfamiliar type or when assessing skills of a new pilot-acquaintance.

Separation Anxiety

Subscribers Only - If there were some way I could make a series of trips back in time to change things, one of the stops on my itinerary would be to somehow infiltrate the small cadre of early pilots and airplane designers to convince them to use a word other than “stall” to describe what happens when a wing exceeds its critical angle of attack. The word obviously has numerous other applications, and using it for this purpose has confounded student pilots and television news anchors ever since. That said, I’m not sure what should replace it, and remain open to suggestions.

Diversionary Tactics

Subscribers Only - True, it won’t tell you how far you’ll have to go to find good barbecue, or even whether there’s a courtesy car. It will, however, give you the hours at which someone should be there, the kinds of fuel available and whether there’s 24-hour self-service, phone numbers for the airport manager or to request after-hours services (if available), the dimensions and pattern orientations of all runways...plus latitude and longitude, bearings and distances to the nearest navaids, frequencies for approach control, weather, and the CTAF or tower and descriptions of possible conflicts such as banner tows or skydiving. It even details what repair services are available, though you might have to look up the codes. (“S4” means “major airframe and powerplant.”) That’s a lot of information for seven bucks—and the batteries never run down.

Trying To Reason With Wildfire Season

While wildfire TFRs don’t usually come with the threat of a pair of F-16s, the red circles depicting wildfire TFRs pop up every summer on aviation charts like weeds. While they can and are created any time special flight operations need to be protected from typical civilian traffic, they’re especially pernicious in the western U.S. Staying safe should be simple, right? Just load the TFRs onto your moving map and skirt their boundaries, right? It isn't that simple: Skirting the boundary is perfectly legal but it may not provide much of a safety margin. In fact, skirting them actually could increase your risk. To truly reduce the flight safety risks related to wildfire TFRs, we need to understand their implications.

When To Go Visual

I had flown a full day with the new owner of a turbocharged Beech Bonanza, a recently retired airline pilot who also had been a U.S. Air Force tanker pilot. He was IFR proficient from the airline and wanted to focus on visual and hand-flying skills while orienting to his airplane’s autopilot and avionics. He did a great job and got markedly more comfortable with the airplane as the day progressed. At the end of the day, I recommended he get more experience with the airplane before going IFR in it. We shook hands and I went to my office to complete my paperwork.

ELTs

Subscribers Only - Those first ELTs, produced under FAA technical standard order (TSO) C91, failed to activate in a crash more than 75 percent of the time. When they did activate, according to AOPA, 97 percent of the time it was a false alarm. By 1985, when the FAA revised the standards and came up with TSO-C91a, a lot of the bugs had been worked out, but the ELT’s troubled history painted it with a mostly deserved reputation for unreliability. Those earlier devices still meet the FAA’s requirement to carry an ELT (see the sidebar on the bottom of the opposite page), but it perhaps is time they were retired in favor of newer technology.

Landsberg Becomes NTSB Vice-Chairman

Subscribers Only - “From the military to his long tenure at the AOPA Air Safety Institute, Bruce Landsberg has a long and respected career in aviation safety, years of experience that will serve him well at the NTSB,” said AOPA President Mark Baker. “We thank the White House for nominating him and the Senate for its confirmation vote. General aviation is safer than ever, and we look forward to working with him and the NTSB to keep improving and giving pilots the resources and training they need to fly safer.”

NTSB Reports

Subscribers Only - The pilot-rated passenger later stated he verified that the flaps were down and the three green landing gear lights were illuminated in the cockpit during the approach. Just before landing, he heard the angle of attack indicator alarm. The airplane landed hard, and he heard a loud pop and felt the left main landing gear fracture. The airplane then slid off the left side of the runway, colliding with PAPI lights, and continued sliding until the right wing dug into the ground. The airplane then flipped over and caught fire. The cockpit canopy was jammed, but several observers helped open it and egress the two occupants.

Air In The Tanks

Subscribers Only - I was flying my Cessna T210R Turbo Centurion from the Westchester County Airport (KHPN) in White Plains, N.Y., to the Dekalb-Peachtree Airport (KPDK) in Atlanta, Ga., on a dark night. I departed KHPN IFR but encountered unlimited visibility over North Carolina and cancelled. Before takeoff, I observed line personnel fill both fuel tanks. I had planned to have an hour’s fuel reserve on landing at PDK, and there hadn’t been any unforecast headwinds. However, as I passed over Greenville, S.C., at 12,500 feet, both fuel gauges showed the tanks nearly empty.

Unregulated

When the aircraft is equipped with VR-1010-24-1A regulators allowed by Service Instruction 0766-354, Rev II, the overvoltage testing procedure is not achievable. The solid-state voltage regulators are not adjustable to a range (over 31.5v) that will adequately test the overvoltage relays. During a ground run and adjustment of the new voltage regulators, one failed and caused an overvoltage condition. It is this technician’s opinion that the test procedure for the overvoltage relay should be changed to include removing and bench testing the overvoltage relays.