June 2018

Download the Full June 2018 Issue PDF

Subscribers Only - A favorite pastime is surfing the online used airplane ads. I check the market value of what I already own, I’m interested in what’s available if I wanted to trade up and I’m curious about obvious trends in used airplanes. It’s a non-scientific exercise, but one from which I can draw some conclusions.

Normalizing ADS-B

Subscribers Only - A favorite pastime is surfing the online used airplane ads. I check the market value of what I already own, I’m interested in what’s available if I wanted to trade up and I’m curious about obvious trends in used airplanes. It’s a non-scientific exercise, but one from which I can draw some conclusions.

The Air Is A Fluid

I wish I had read, or at least learned the material, in Mike Hart’s April 2018 article (“Seeing The Invisible”) before my husband and I departed on a flight from Santa Monica to Lone Pine, Calif., back in 1998. My excuse is that I had not yet earned my certificate. At the time, I blithely believed the plane simply went where you pointed it.

Why Do We Stall?

Subscribers Only - Fixed-wing pilots start learning stall recognition and avoidance during pre-solo training. The private and sport pilot checkrides require recovering from developed stalls with minimal loss of altitude, and stall and spin awareness are (or at least should be) refreshed during flight reviews for the duration of one’s flying career. But unintended stalls still put dozens of airplanes into the ground every year. Is it possible that stall training as currently practiced isn’t as effective as it might be?

Post-Maintenance Preflight Tips

Subscribers Only - What does a component’s normal condition look like, and what typically goes wrong with it? If your maintenance technician isn’t available to ask, consult the airplane’s POH, and don’t forget to look in the supplement section. In fact, you rarely can go wrong with the manufacturer’s preflight checklist. One of those times, however, is after maintenance has been performed. If that’s the case, a more detailed preflight inspection is warranted. The place to start is determining what kind of maintenance has been performed, and you do that by reviewing the aircraft maintenance records. That’s because aircraft just out of maintenance are more likely to have safety-of-flight issues than an aircraft in good condition flown on a daily basis. The extent to which an airplane coming out of maintenance will have an issue is proportional to the complexity of the work performed. Something as simple as adding air to a tire isn’t likely to cause a problem, but complex work—and work on several systems at a time—creates too many opportunities for mischief for us to ignore.

Mind The Gaps

Subscribers Only - Less often discussed—or warned about—are the radar gaps, the places where there is only a partial picture. At best, the conclusions we draw when viewing weather radar where gaps exist can be misleading. At worst, they’re completely wrong. (And weather radar isn’t our only concern: depending on where we fly, ATC radar often has gaps in its coverage, especially at personal-airplane altitudes.) Essentially these radar gaps—especially the weather-radar kind—are what we might call “known unknowns,” and pilots would do well to be very wary of them. The good news is they are somewhat predictable if you know what to look for.

Keep Your Speed Up

"November 12345 is cleared for the visual approach to Runway One Left, traffic is a Boeing 737 on a seven-mile final behind you, maintain best speed, contact the tower....” Fly into a Class C or Class B primary airport and you’ll eventually be asked to “keep your speed up” because of inbound traffic behind you. Do it IFR, even at some Class D facilities, and you’d best be very ready to mix with the heavy iron, which easily could be approaching 100 knots faster than your flivver can manage.

Braking Tactics

While conducting flight reviews and stage checks for students working toward various airman certificates, I’m finding pilots who do not have a strong understanding of the operation and limitations of light aircraft braking systems. I’ve also noticed many pilots misuse the brakes in landing and taxiing. For the former, brakes are incorrectly and/or unnecessarily applied immediately following landing. For the latter, excessive engine power requires the pilot to “ride the brakes” to control the airplane. Both are examples of poor technique.

Lack Of Assertiveness

Any pilot who’s flown “in the system” much knows air traffic controllers can be intimidating. The very use of the term “controller” implies a level of authority over pilots, which often translates into the mindset that pilots always must comply with a controller’s instructions, or else. That’s true to an extent, but the pilot is always the final authority as to the operation of the aircraft. It says so, right there in FAR 91.3

NTSB Reports

Subscribers Only - At about 1051 Eastern time, the airplane was substantially damaged when it struck terrain during an attempted go-around. The private pilot and the pilot-rated passenger were not injured. Visual conditions prevailed.

Remember Your Training

Subscribers Only - I was still a student pilot, with maybe 20 hours, most of it dual instruction, somewhere between my first solo and the checkride. My primary mount was a Cessna 150 but I had recently been checked out in the FBO’s Cherokee 140. One day, rather than take the 150 for a local flight, I opted for the Piper. The airplane actually was a bit intimidating: A more powerful engine. Only one door. A low-mounted wing, like a jet fighter. A fuel system demanding that the pilot energize the auxiliary pump for takeoffs and landings (and change tanks every now and then), both of which were “features” the 150 didn’t have. Rear seats! It was definitely a step up from the 150, at least in complexity, and I was itching to solo it.

FAA Rolls Back Complex Airplane Checkride Rule

Less than a month after the April 4, 2018, fatal crash of a Piper Arrow during a commercial-pilot checkride, the FAA has changed its policy to no longer require a complex airplane (one with controllable-pitch propeller, flaps and retractable landing gear) for the commercial pilot-airplane or flight instructor-airplane certificates. The change comes via FAA Notice 8900.463, Use of a Complex Airplane During a Commercial Pilot or Flight Instructor Practical Test, dated April 24, 2018. The policy change reflects the lack of suitable aircraft.

Nuts And Bolts

While changing an IO-520-BB’s oil during an annual inspection, steel and red rubbery pieces were found in the filter. Metal determined to be coming from crankshaft gear driving alternator. Rubber was coming from alternator drive coupler. Four bolts holding crankshaft gear to crank were loose, allowing gear to slop around and cause wear of gears and coupler. Locking plates securing the four bolts were missing.