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Accident Probes

All Or Nothing?

The question is as old as the powered aviation itself: Assuming a single-engine airplane, if power is lost immediately after takeoff, should you land straight ahead or try to get back to the airport? This magazine has often addressed the question, including a January 2006 article by spinmeister Rich Stowell. Rich detailed the results of a simulator-based study examining "the feasibility of successfully executing a 180-degree turnaround following an engine failure at 500 feet agl." The study concluded that practicing the maneuver boosted its success rate, but landing straight ahead (or nearly so) had a higher success rate.

Riding Shotgun

If you're like me, one of the first goals I assigned myself after earning my private pilot certificate was to add the instrument rating. For other pilots, VFR-only flying may be where adding certificates and ratings stops but the education continues. The daunting task of putting trust fully into your instruments and air traffic controllers is a bridge some pilots won't cross. But in the natural progression of pilot certificates and ratings, adding the instrument rating is a common goal after getting through the private checkride.

Airworthiness Concerns

Yet, as with all airplanes as time marches on, wear and tear take a toll on the way various mechanisms work, and better designs often are available to replace them. That's especially true when it comes to the PA-28 fleet's sidewall-mounted fuel selector, the current design of which now is in its third generation. The original design-generation 1, or Gen1-did not have much in the way of a detent protecting against inadvertent repositioning, nor does it prevent over-rotation leading to unintended movement to the OFF position. These characteristics aren't the most desirable in a fuel selector assembly, especially since the component is mounted in the sidewall under the pilot's left knee, where it can be difficult to view.

Unwarranted

One special category of pilots are those for whom going fast is important. Why? Because speed is relative. At altitude on a severe clear day, there's little sensation of speed. We have to get close to something before our speed becomes apparent. And the risk with getting close to something is we might hit it. While untrained pilots who engage in such risky behaviors aren't the norm, there's enough of them that the practice has its own term: unwarranted low flying. Its use apparently has fallen out of favor, but the phrase "unwarranted low flying" has populated numerous NTSB reports over the years.

ADS-B Shenanigans?

Thank you for printing in Augusts magazine the short letter I wrote, highlighting an issue I encountered just south of the Albany, N.Y., Class C airspace-a Cub showing an ADS-B altitude of 500 feet below sea level. (By the way, I passed the same Cub today at very close range. This time he wasnt showing up at all on ADS-B). In your response, you asked readers to report other anomalies, so heres one from a week or so ago.

Brave New World

Toward the back of the magazine youre holding in your hand, in our Quick Turns department, theres a news item about the FAA formally transitioning to the ICAO-standard/international flight plan form for all domestic non-military operations. If youve been paying attention over the last few years, as we have, youll be happy to know a process that has seen several earlier deadlines come and go seems to have finally staggered across the finish line. As of August 27, the international flight plan form is the law of the land, so to speak.

ADS-B Shenanigans?

Thank you for printing in Augusts magazine the short letter I wrote, highlighting an issue I encountered just south of the Albany, N.Y., Class C airspace-a Cub showing an ADS-B altitude of 500 feet below sea level. (By the way, I passed the same Cub today at very close range. This time he wasnt showing up at all on ADS-B). In your response, you asked readers to report other anomalies, so heres one from a week or so ago.

NTSB Reports

During the landing roll, three deer ran from right to left across the runway. The pilot felt a hard strike on the inboard section of the right wing, observed a deer roll over the right wing and felt a sensation of the right landing gear running over a second deer. Although the airplane sustained substantial damage to its right wing, the pilot was able to maintain control and taxied to the ramp without further incident. The pilot and passenger had to egress through the rear baggage door due to damage to the cabin door.

Ill Be Missing You

We all know how to fly a missed approach. We probably did a handful of them on our instrument checkrides, and when were out practicing approaches, even in a sim, we most often go missed. We may not be flying a full missed approach procedure as published, but we still have to reconfigure the airplane and climb away. When were practicing, we know how the approach will terminate: by going around at the missed approach point. Its what we expect when practicing.

Navigation Failure

When we approached the centerline, she nudged me on the shoulder. I rolled the plane to where I thought the runway centerline was. At this point we were totally in the soup, and I was flying by training instinct. I saw the ADF needle swing to the rear, indicating wed passed the outer marker, and I initiated a standard approach descent of 500 fpm, as I figured that would keep us close to the glideslope.

IFR Route Changes

Sitting around and talking with pilot friends, you hear nonstop talk about aircraft and equipment. Eventually, someone always brings up ATC in conversation. Pilots argue among themselves more intensely than Socrates debating Plato. One question that new and even veteran pilots bring up is why, when they file an IFR flight plan, that their clearance is usually never as filed but includes a route change of some sort.

Rusty Pilots

The weight of the engine is only significant in that it is part of the center of gravity of the aircraft, which naturally lies aft of the main gear in a taildragger. Therein lies the problem, especially while landing. That center of gravity, without interference, will travel in a straight line when in motion, according to Newtons First law, which is often called inertia. It is imperative that we keep the airplane (longitudinal axis) tracking and aligned with that same straight line.