May 2018

Download the Full May 2018 Issue PDF

Subscribers Only - The Commonwealth of Virginia requires motor vehicles to undergo annual safety inspections. An authorized mechanic checks the lights, horn, brakes, tires, steering, suspension, etc., to make sure they’re within service limits (sound familiar?). In neighboring Maryland, on the other hand, just one safety inspection is required, when a vehicle is initially registered. After that, it’s up to the owner to keep track of treadwear, brake pad thickness, headlight alignment and many other items receiving scrutiny in Virginia.

FAA: GA Outlook Flat

The long-term outlook for general aviation through 2038 is “stable to optimistic,” according to the FAA’s recently announced Aerospace Forecast 2018-2038. Specifically, the FAA estimates the general aviation fleet will increase from “213,050 aircraft in 2017 to 214,090 in 2038, growing an average of 0.0 percent a year.”

Meet George Jetson

A flurry of news coverage in recent months is highlighting plans by ride-hailing company Uber to elevate the transportation model it’s promoted from the surface to the sky. Company CEO Dara Khosrowshahi predicted “[f]lying cars will be zipping across U.S. skies within the coming decade,” according to Bloomberg, amid plans for UberAir, a flying taxi service. Various metropolitan areas are targeted as test cases, with the company reportedly aiming a trial for Southern California in 2020. We’ll see.

Black-Hole Takeoffs

I read with interest the articles in April’s edition about “Low-Viz Takeoffs,” by Tom Turner, and the Accident Probe, “Black-Hole Approach.” I had a night takeoff about five years ago that combined both situations.The Franklin County airport at Sewanee, Tenn., has a 3700-foot-long runway oriented 06-24, with the usual winds favoring 24. The runway is well-lit at night but has no approach lights because it is bounded on all sides by 40-to-50-foot-tall trees. On a beautiful but dark night that spring, after watching a University of the South lacrosse game, my wife and I were leaving for Nashville.

Maximum Flight Review

Subscribers Only - The Commonwealth of Virginia requires motor vehicles to undergo annual safety inspections. An authorized mechanic checks the lights, horn, brakes, tires, steering, suspension, etc., to make sure they’re within service limits (sound familiar?). In neighboring Maryland, on the other hand, just one safety inspection is required, when a vehicle is initially registered. After that, it’s up to the owner to keep track of treadwear, brake pad thickness, headlight alignment and many other items receiving scrutiny in Virginia.

Tiedown Tales

Subscribers Only - As the oft-paraphrased aphorism goes, all is well when the ties that bind us are stronger than the stresses that can separate us. The same goes for parking an aircraft. When we properly secure it after a flight, it’s reasonable to expect it’ll be there when we return. Once we release the ties that bind it, our aircraft will again provide us with reliable transportation. Most of the time, that is how it works. Other times, just a little inattention and improper securing of the aircraft—or improperly reversing the process during the preflight inspection—can and does lead to accidents.

Risk Assessment Tools

Subscribers Only - Thanks to the contents of the FAA’s new airman certification standards (ACS), which are replacing the practical test standards (PTS), most applicants for pilot certificates and ratings must now demonstrate that they can identify, assess and mitigate risk. Although the FAA and industry organizations have developed flight risk assessment tools (FRATs) to help pilots identify and manage risks, these tools often use a simplistic numerical scoring system that will produce a “go” decision when significant risk is still present. With a little more thought, analyzing risk can be more realistic and much more effective.

Props

Propellers often are not well understood by general aviation pilots. Their purpose—transferring the engine’s horsepower into thrust by moving a large volume of air to the rear—usually is obvious. How this feat is accomplished may not be. Looking at a propeller blade cross-section will reveal it is actually an airfoil, one moving at a right angle to the airplane’s desired motion.

Sidestepping Storms

It’s a staple of instrument flying: the need to alter your route to avoid weather hazards. Often the obstacle in your path is a building cumulus cloud—a thunderstorm. The good news is that ATC is almost always willing and able to let you maneuver around clouds with extensive vertical development. All you have to do is ask (although sometimes we’ve seen ATC offer a different route in advance). Before you make the request, however, there are several things you need to consider to safely and successfully maneuver around the threat.

Gust Front

Subscribers Only - There are many old sayings sprinkled throughout aviation. One of them, “There’s no such thing as an emergency takeoff,” highlights the fact that deciding to initiate a flight is optional. As pilots, we get to decide many elements of our takeoffs, including whether to perform one in the first place. This is important since there are many unknowns in the first few minutes after a takeoff.

NTSB Reports

Subscribers Only - At about 1105 Pacific time, the airplane departed the runway after landing. The flight instructor and student pilot were not injured but the airplane sustained substantial damage to its left wing. Visual conditions prevailed. According to the flight instructor, they were practicing single-engine approaches by simulating failure of the left engine. The airplane was low on the approach, and the student was instructed to add power to the right engine. The student advanced the right engine’s throttle, but there was no increase in power/thrust. The flight instructor told the student to push both throttles full forward and make a go-around. The right engine returned to full power but the left one failed to produce thrust. The airplane entered a VMC roll toward the “failed” left engine and impacted terrain.

Who Do You Trust?

Subscribers Only - It was a dark and stormy day...seriously. Family issues required me to get to Clark Regional Airport (KJVY) in Jeffersonville, Ind. But the prognoses for the route from Augusta Municipal Airport (3AU) outside of Wichita, Kan., predicted lines of storms scattered across the 600-odd miles.

Cessna 172 SDRs

Pilot found a brake anomaly. Checked aircraft and found that the anchor had detached from bulkhead assembly (p/n 0513488-11), causing the brake system failure.