August 2017

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Subscribers Only - On the off chance you’ve forgotten, here’s a helpful reminder: ATC privatization is still a thing. It’s baked into a bill being considered in the U.S. House of Representatives to reauthorize the FAA. The legislation—or something like it that continues the agency’s programs—needs to be enacted by September 30, 2017. Current U.S. Senate legislation to accomplish the same basic task doesn’t have ATC privatization in it at this writing.

The Real Deal?

On the off chance you’ve forgotten, here’s a helpful reminder: ATC privatization is still a thing. It’s baked into a bill being considered in the U.S. House of Representatives to reauthorize the FAA. The legislation—or something like it that continues the agency’s programs—needs to be enacted by September 30, 2017. Current U.S. Senate legislation to accomplish the same basic task doesn’t have ATC privatization in it at this writing.

Gadget Addiction

I chuckled reading Mike Hart's comments on reverting from his in-cockpit gadgets to paper (“Addicted To Gadgets?” June 2017). I fly my Cirrus with a Garmin Perspective, but just attained my commercial license using a 1967 Piper Arrow II, since I needed a retractable-gear airplane. These good friends keep their planes in top shape, but it was a similar experience to Mike's 135 challenge. The club has three retracts and I would move between each one until I decided which one to test in. Between the Arrow IV, 172RG and the Arrow II, I finally decided on the II.

How We Forget

Everyone occasionally forgets to perform some everyday task such as returning a phone call or depositing a check. But if the task is a flight-critical function, such as putting down the landing gear, surely no competent, conscientious pilot would forget, right? Well, no, even if it is a matter of life and death, pilots sometimes forget. For example, several airline catastrophes have occurred when a cockpit crew attempted to take off, forgetting to set flaps. Airline accidents have also occurred when cockpit crews forgot to lower the landing gear, turn on pitot heat, set hydraulic boost pumps to high, etc. The frequency of such oversights in the airline industry is much higher than the accident rate suggests because in most cases, the oversight is caught by a warning system in time for the crew to correct the situation.

Electrical Systems

Subscribers Only - Unless you’re flying a hot-air balloon, a sailplane or something with an engine that must be hand-propped, your aircraft has an electrical system. It may power only the basic equipment, like lights and the engine’s starter motor, or it can power everything, including the landing gear, flaps and flight instruments. Modern systems—and even those aboard so-called legacy aircraft—usually are relatively simple and robust, with well-understood components and maintenance requirements.

Just Trying To Help

Subscribers Only - We all know the hazardous attitudes the FAA wants us to understand. Concepts like anti-authority, impulsivity and invincibility have no real place in the cockpit. Now, I’m going to add one more: the desire to be helpful, or the motivation to please others. One of my big motivations in life is to be helpful to others. I enjoy writing for this magazine, for example, because it is helpful to other pilots. I also get great pleasure in being a solution to other people’s problems.

Entry-Level Travel

Subscribers Only - The problem with an airplane like that is you can’t really use it for travel,” said a pilot looking out the FBO window at a Cherokee 140 sitting on the ramp. That pilot was saying that an entry-level airplane—think two or four seats, fixed gear and no more than 160 hp—can’t go places. Show me where it says that. It’s hard to imagine Charles Lindbergh shrugging off the Ryan NYP because it barely made 110…

LOC Recoveries

Subscribers Only - Unusual attitude recovery is a standard part of the FAA checkride for nearly every rating, plus flight reviews and instrument proficiency checks. Pilots dutifully don a hood, put their heads down as an instructor or examiner puts the airplane through a few gyrations and then says, “You’ve got it.” The pilot looks up to see that the airplane is either in a nose-low or nose-high bank and usually makes a power change to help control speed, levels the wings and returns the nose to the horizon before something breaks. A check is placed in the unusual attitudes box and the pilot and instructor move on to other tasks.

Graphical Area Forecast

Beginning in our December 2015 issue, we shared with readers and explored ongoing efforts at the FAA and the National Weather Service (NWS) to replace the old, familiar text-based area forecast (FA) with a graphics-based product. A follow-up article in our April 2016 issue discussed some of the proposed changes and presented screenshots of the graphical replacement. Now, beginning about the time this issue is in your mailbox, a three-month transition period will begin, ending in October, at which time the text-based FA covering the Continental U.S. (Conus) will be no more.

Dark Night Conditions

I’ve always enjoyed flying at night. There’s usually a lot less traffic, the ATC frequency is quieter and it’s rare to be delayed for an approach, landing or takeoff. Sunsets can be quite amazing from a personal airplane, and I’ve been fortunate enough to witness a few sunrises, too. Owing to day-job schedules and airplane availability, most of my instrument training happened at night and, even with all that going on, I’m by no means an expert on flying in the dark.

NTSB Reports

Subscribers Only - At 1529 Pacific time, the airplane struck powerlines and traffic lights, then collided with the ground after a loss of engine power during takeoff. The pilot was not injured; the passenger received minor injuries. The airplane sustained substantial damage. Visual conditions prevailed.

Fuel Follies

You’re alone in your Lancair Evolution single-engine turboprop. You have just refueled at Chicago’s Midway Airport and are headed to Denver, which your computer says is 788 nm away. The weather is good. The flight planning you’ve accomplished says it will take 3+15 and 121 gallons of the 170 available with the tanks filled. On startup, you reset your fuel totalizer to 170 gallons.

Motoring

While in cruise flight, pilot noticed smoke coming out from under instrument panel. Pilot aborted flight but noticed landing gear extension much slower than normal. Aircraft was placed on jacks and gear retracted. Pump motor (p/n 98811281) could be heard grinding and working very slowly. Pump motor was too hot to be touched. Battery was disconnected, aborting retraction. New pump and motor were installed.