From the January 2015 Issue

Laid-Back Landings

Laid-Back Landings

Year after year, far and away the largest number of fixed-wing accidents result from attempts to get those airplanes back onto the ground.” So says the AOPA Air Safety Institute’s 23rd Joseph T. Nall Report, examining general aviation safety during 2011. Landing accidents are more than twice as frequent as any other pilot-related accident category, according to the Report. That’s the bad news. The good news is we can do something about it: improve our performance.\nThere’s no question landing an airplane is a complex task, but one way to ensure we always perform well is consistency: do it the same way each time and you’ll eventually get good at it. In other words, we need to make our landings routine, not excitement-filled adventures where the outcome is in doubt until the last moment.


Current Issue

Making Your Own Luck

One of this magazine’s missions is to help reduce general aviation’s accident rates. Ideally, there would be no fatalities. We want to see an end to poverty and war, too, but we’re not holding our breath on either. In the world of aircraft, a mechanical world, things are still going to break and pilots are going to have to respond quickly, thoughtfully, and appropriately in order to make aircraft accident fatalities go away. Sometimes they may have to augment that skill with luck, too.

GA Safety In Europe

General aviation flight operations in Europe often are radically different from those in the United States, yet GA pilots “across the pond” face some of the same safety issues confronting pilots in the U.S. Meanwhile, European GA pilots and operators also must battle safety issues unique to Europe, including uneven infrastructure and high operating costs, which can limit training and proficiency flying. As a result, comparing GA in Europe to its counterpart in the U.S. offers some risk management lessons for pilots who are increasingly facing similar challenges, no matter their geographic location.

Popping Up

You’re departing on an IFR trip in a well-equipped aircraft with two passengers aboard. When you call for your clearance, ATC cannot immediately find your flight plan—you get the oft-dreaded “clearance on request” response. After completing all your pre-taxi checklists and entering what you expect will be your route into the GPS, you’re still sitting on the ramp with the engines turning, waiting. Eventually clearance delivery returns and says they cannot find your flight plan.

Laid-Back Landings

Year after year, far and away the largest number of fixed-wing accidents result from attempts to get those airplanes back onto the ground.” So says the AOPA Air Safety Institute’s 23rd Joseph T. Nall Report, examining general aviation safety during 2011. Landing accidents are more than twice as frequent as any other pilot-related accident category, according to the Report. That’s the bad news. The good news is we can do something about it: improve our performance. There’s no question landing an airplane is a complex task, but one way to ensure we always perform well is consistency: do it the same way each time and you’ll eventually get good at it. In other words, we need to make our landings routine, not excitement-filled adventures where the outcome is in doubt until the last moment.

Making The Low-Vis Takeoff

General aviation pilots make IFR takeoffs in reduced visibility and low ceilings on a daily basis. We line up, launch, establish a climb, transition to the gauges and press on with the flight. Assuming there is an approach with adequate minimums at home plate or a nearby airport, we’re confident we can return and land within about 10 minutes should something go sour. If we’re in a single and the engine decides to take the day off, our ability to pick out a good landing site is minimal but, hey, that’s IFR flight any time the weather is down.

Bites At The Apple

Every now and then, we come across an accident report that makes us wonder what we would have done differently, and when. Usually, the answer is fairly clear-cut: Do exactly the opposite of what the accident pilot did. Sometimes, though, it’s not nearly so clear-cut, and we find ourselves wondering if we had been in the left seat, would we have done as well.

Weighty Matters

I had been doing a lot of flying, but most of it involved long, multi-hour legs, solo. As one consequence, I was logging only one or two landings for every five or so hours. Even though the airplane I was flying was well-equipped (read “heavy” for its model), most of my flights ended up with only a couple of hours’ worth of fuel. In other words, my recent experience with landings, though far in excess of the minimum required to remain legally and technically proficient, meant I always was landing a fairly light airplane.

Motor Club

Failed Landing Gear Motor After takeoff, crew selected gear lever to up. Gear traveled halfway up and stopped. Crew selected holding area and ran checklist, manually lowering gear, followed by normal landing. Inspection revealed landing gear motor had failed and tripped the 60-amp circuit breaker under the floor. Motor was repaired and ops check was good. Part Total Time: 9452.0 hours

NTSB Reports: January 2015

U.S. Civil Aviation Accidents

ROI

Like me, you’ve probably been using the FAA’s free traffic and flight information. The two services, TIS-B and FIS-B, respectively, comprise the basic benefits the typical GA operator can expect from ADS-B IN, a component of the FAA’s NextGen ATC system. They’re available now, well in advance of the FAA’s 2020 mandate to install and use the other component, ADS-B OUT.

Accumulations

Mike Hart’s December 2014 article, “POH Fiction,” does a great job highlighting the ways aftermarket modifications can fundamentally alter a certified airplane’s performance without providing a lot of documentation about the effects. It’s also a good primer on how two or more so-called “legacy” STCs—those approved by the FAA prior to, say, 2000, may be a little light on specifying how they interact with one another. For many added pieces of equipment, the streamlined approved model list (AML) process has helped minimize paperwork for thousands of owners. But combining some of the more complicated STCs can have unintended consequences.

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