June 2008 Issue

Are TAAs Safer?

After some well-publicized teething pains, it appears technologically advanced airplanes are racking up a better safety record than their less well-equipped brethren.

My first "actual" instrument flight after earning the rating was a 27-nm hop from Sedalia to Boonville, Mo., in a Cessna 172. The entire flight was flown below radar coverage. Navigation was by ADF—an outbound bearing from Sedalia to intercept an inbound to Boonville’s Jessie Vertiel Memorial Airport. With my clearance received I climbed into juicy clouds at about 800 feet agl and cruised to the "far" NDB, thence flying the full-procedure approach. I had a strong crosswind on the inbound course; it was too low for VOR cross-bearings, so my navigation was by the lone, waggling ADF needle, my watch and a rough guess at my probable groundspeed. I juggled the approach plate, my charts and kneeboard, and the flight controls as I fought light turbulence while hoping to hold my wind-corrected bearing to avoid towers growing up into the murk. I broke out about two miles from the runway, lucky to pick out and avoid a Cessna scud-running just beneath the cloud deck, then scooted the rest of the way in at MDA until intercepting the VASI and landing in a stiff wind.

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