February 2008 Issue

On a Mission: LIFR Departures

According to top operators, safe, regular departures in low IFR require devising a system to double-check everything and sticking to it.

In a perfect world, we’d always take off into clear skies. If we’re going to get any utility out of IFR airplanes, however, there will be times when we take off with reduced visibility and/or low clouds—an instrument departure. Transitioning from visual to instrument flight quickly after liftoff, while accelerating and still close to the ground, takes precision to be performed safely. How do pilots "on a mission" to take off into low ceilings or visibility plan and execute a safe departure? Dave Dewhirst runs Wichita, Kansas-based SABRIS, managing high-performance piston, light twin and light turbine aircraft around the country, with a network of mechanics and flight instructors helping assure safe operation by pilots in the managed fleet. The first key to safe IFR departures, says Dewhirst, is to "take a deep breath" before taxiing onto the runway, ensuring there’s time to make certain all checklist items are complete. This includes briefing the departure, briefing passengers, along with all those little things like navigation and transponder settings, security of doors and windows, checking for seat belts closed in the door to flap against the fuselage in flight, and the like.

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