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NTSB Reports: January 2016

A pilot reported hearing a Mayday call from another airplane, stating that the engine had failed and he was attempting to land on the east side of a canal. No further communications were received from the accident airplanes pilot.

Icing in Your Aircraft’s Engine

Its that time of year again in the Northern Hemisphere, when in-flight icing can be a threat. Depending on where you are and where youre going, icing may be a rare possibility during the upcoming season. It also can be a sure thing. Evaluating the possibility of in-flight icing is part of the equation-its potential impact is another. A pilot might completely overlook icings impact on other aircraft systems, including the powerplant(s). Carburetor icing should be a topic familiar to most pilots, but induction system icing can be an afterthought. And while there are systems we can activate to minimize icings impact on the induction system, we must remember they exist and know how to activate them.

How Flight Hours Translate to Experience

Whenever two or more pilots get together in the same place, the conversation eventually gets around to which of them has the greatest number of flight hours. The yardstick of how much time youve spent aloft is more than just small-scale bragging rights, of course-it also can determine whether youre eligible for a subsequent certificate, or even legal to carry passengers. And then theres the matter of insurance coverage.The simple fact is that most of the aviation world measures how competent we are in the cockpit by how much time we may have spent there. The inference is that high-time pilots are safer, and that low-time pilots are less safe. The fallacy is highlighted if we put someone with 20,000 hours as PIC of a 747 into a piston single and ask him or her to perform an engine-out approach from downwind: Without some practice-i.e., some experience with that particular operation-its not likely to turn out well. What is experience? How to measure it? Most important: If its so valuable, how can we get more of it?

Pilot Training Mishaps & Heavy Loads in the Aft End

Readers give their feedback on past Aviation Safety stories. A pilot breaks down the aerodynamics of loading extra weight in the aft of your aircraft. The auothors of The Limits of Expertise send their love, and the subjectivity of student experience is called into question. Find your center of gravity with this insightful commentary from our valued subscribers.

When the Aircraft’s Generator Dies (On Your Checkride)

This pilot's Practical Test could have ended catastrophically. While ultimately uneventful, he took a considerable risk flying home with a failed aircraft generator. An O-300s generator is shaft-driven, turned by gears in the accessory case. The fastener securing the gear to the generator had failed, allowing the gear to get loose inside the engine. Little did I know it, but the engine promptly began to grind and chew the two gears into lots of very small bits.The trip cost him $10,000 in damage, but all in all, this was a very lucky checkride. Check out his first-hand account of this flight test from hell.

Decision Making for Pilots

According to those who have done extensive research into pilot behavior, a major characteristic of a typical pilots decision-making often leading to a fatal accident is that we are highly mission-oriented. We continue to focus on getting to the destination even as weather and mechanical issues progressively go down the tubes. The accompanying stress results in tunnel vision and reduces our ability to objectively analyze the big picture. One result can be very capable pilots pressing on into conditions that ultimately bring the flight to an ugly conclusion.

Differences

Everyone remembers the first airplane they flew. But what about the second one? Chances are it was a lot like the first one, but still was different. While the make and model may have been the same, the serial and registration numbers were different, of course. Even trivial differences between the two likely was a topic of discussion with your instructor. The conversation may have included how different avionics equipment was installed, or one of them never had a working landing light, or had a prop offering better performance. In an extreme, you could have been mixing makes, models, wing position and avionics. There likely was a moment where you couldnt find that blemish on the windshield you used as a reference point, or found the throttle too stiff.

NTSB Safety Alert Highlights

Mastering Mountain FlyingUnderstanding Flight ExperiencePerform Advanced Preflight After Maintenance

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NTSB Reports: February 2015

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