September 2018

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Subscribers Only - Many of today’s workplaces seek to create a formalized “safety culture,” an environment where employees practice behaviors that minimize accidents, look out for their co-workers and where reporting unsafe conditions is encouraged, not subject to retaliation, and frequently rewarded. It can be a great goal, but it often creates an exaggerated sense of safety where people need safety training to use a power strip and posters about how to get out of a car without tripping. The goal of creating a safety culture often ends up a corporate farce, since the best safety cultures are not created by artifice, but happen naturally because people really care.

Good Days In The Plane

Like thousands of my closest friends, I made the pilgrimage to Oshkosh, Wis., in late July for the Experimental Aircraft Association’s annual AirVenture Fly-In and Convention. As has been the case with the show in recent years, the 2018 edition set another new record for attendance, with some 601,000 people moving through the gates. At Oshkosh’s Wittman Field, there were 19,588 aircraft operations during the 11-day period from July 20-30, according to EAA, an average of approximately 134 takeoffs/landings per hour. I contributed two of those operations.

IMC Emergencies

Subscribers Only - We were in IMC at 4000 feet, on a vector for the VOR-A approach at the Wichita, Kan., Colonel James Jabara Airport. The airplane was an A36 Bonanza and I was in the instructor’s seat on the last approach of a day-long training session. This was in the era before GPS, long before iPads and moving-map handhelds, and the owner of this then-well-equipped 36 had ignored the short-lived Loran phase. So we were eastbound on a long downwind, and crabbing into a northerly wind before intercepting the westbound final approach course before circling to Jabara’s north/south runway.

Maneuvers

But if you struggled to get the knack of flight maneuver exercises that often seemed far removed from the realities of coaxing an aircraft between Points A and B, you have our sympathy. Training for the private and commercial certificates in particular requires learning to master maneuvers whose relation to practical aviation is, to put it charitably, not obvious. (If you can envision a situation in which your life depends on being able to fly lazy eights to airman certification standards, by all means write in to describe it, as we can’t.) This raises the question: Having once done them well enough to persuade an examiner to issue a certificate, is there any reason to go on spending flight time and the money it represents maintaining those elusive skills?

Backcountry Safety Culture

Many of today’s workplaces seek to create a formalized “safety culture,” an environment where employees practice behaviors that minimize accidents, look out for their co-workers and where reporting unsafe conditions is encouraged, not subject to retaliation, and frequently rewarded. It can be a great goal, but it often creates an exaggerated sense of safety where people need safety training to use a power strip and posters about how to get out of a car without tripping. The goal of creating a safety culture often ends up a corporate farce, since the best safety cultures are not created by artifice, but happen naturally because people really care.

Pattern Entry Guidance

The right-hand diagram on page 32 (July 2018) depicting an alternate midfield entry when approaching from the side opposite the traffic pattern was (and I believe still is) the standard approach taught across Canada when I began flying over 50 years ago. When approaching from the same side of the traffic pattern, we were taught to enter downwind parallel to, slightly wider and slightly further upwind than usual, rather than the 45-degree entry in the U.S. The preferred entry (left-hand diagram) involves a short period where you are blind to everything that may be happening in the pattern and thus may pose unnecessary risk.

Making GA Safety Policy

Subscribers Only - Recent, similar efforts involving the FAA and the GA community are picking up in tempo. You’ve already seen some of the institutional changes: relaxed certification standards for installing advisory angle-of-attack indicators and the new rash of all-electronic attitude indicators, among others, which are designed to help minimize the classic loss-of-control inflight accident. These and other outcomes may be producing tangible results, but it’s too early to be sure. Regardless, by using a data-driven approach and producing specific safety enhancements, these efforts are creating some useful outcomes for GA pilots. The way this came to be is an example of why you never want to see sausage made.

Beyond Flaps

Subscribers Only - Boeing’s 727 has always been one of my all-time favorite airplanes. I’ve never flown in one as anything other than self-loading freight, but I’m old enough to remember when the 727 (and the DC-9) brought jet comfort and performance to smaller, outlying airports where the era’s long-haul mainstays—707s and DC-8s—couldn’t operate. These days, of course, economics—fuel burn, plus the need to pay three pilots—and noise regulations have relegated the venerable three-holer to tramp-freighter status or the scrapyard.

FAA Urges Best Practices For Turbocharger Exhaust

As part of its charter to help minimize GA accidents, the General Aviation Joint Steering Committee (GAJSC; see the article beginning on page 4 for background) earlier this year published a “Best Practices Guide” designed “to ensure airplanes equipped with turbocharged reciprocating engines fitted with turbocharger to tailpipe V-band coupling/clamps, remain in their original type design configuration. It will also help to effectively manage the risk associated with the use of V-band coupling/clamps in this application.”

It’s Your Job To Check

Subscribers Only - There’s an opinion among some pilots and mechanics that inspections and scheduled maintenance can do more harm than good. By constantly disassembling and reassembling an aircraft to inspect it, they argue, we’re prematurely wearing out the aircraft and actually making it less safe. Those same pilots and mechanics note that this is largely true, in their opinion, for aircraft that aren’t flown very much. For more active aircraft, however, they acknowledge that regular inspections and maintenance are less intrusive and, in fact, beneficial.

Bad Yokes

During a scheduled inspection, technicians encountered corroded and bent control yoke boss attachment hardware that proved difficult to remove. After consulting with the manufacturer, the final recommendation was to remove the boss via cutting the bolts (p/n 2315152-33). Manufacturer was able to repair the yoke assembly using SB 31-27-11 and kit 2381602-801. Aircraft had been parked outside without gust locks.

NTSB Reports

Subscribers Only - The pilot later stated he selected the landing gear handle to the down position, but the main landing gear did not lock in the extended position. He then selected the landing gear handle up, but the landing gear did not retract. After maneuvering away from the airport, an attempt to pump down the gear with the emergency hand pump was unsuccessful. An airframe-mounted mirror indicated the left landing gear was down. During the landing, the right main landing gear collapsed and the airplane veered to the right and departed the runway surface, coming to rest on the parallel taxiway.

Pothole

Subscribers Only - The landing was normal, and I took a close look at the left landing gear after shutting down but couldn’t find anything amiss. The tire and wheel looked good, and there was no hydraulic fluid seeping from the strut. The brake was secure and had tested fine on the landing, and when taxiing in. There was no damage to the wing, the landing gear door or any other part of the airplane. Not finding anything wrong with the airplane I forgot about it, wondering if I had imagined it. Ultimately, I figured I’d hit a dog with the landing gear and, sadly, someone had lost their pet.