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Airborne Hot Spots

The FAA defines a hot spot as a location on an airport movement area that demands heightened attention by pilots and vehicle operators due to the history of potential collision or runway incursion. Knowing where any hot spots are at the airports you intend to use arms you with useful risk management information. Meanwhile, the FAA has gone sort of nuts with the airport hot spot concept. Dont believe me? Check out the airport diagram for Addison Airport (KADS) in Dallas, Texas, below. Every taxiway intersection east of the runway is a hot spot.

Behind The Curve

The only time Ive performed what I consider to have been a for-real high-altitude takeoff, it went fine. I was at Albuquerque, N.M.s Double Eagle II airport, elevation some 5800 feet. It wasnt the middle of summer, but it was a warm, sunny fall afternoon. I dont recall which runway I used, but it offered more than enough length for my Debonair, which carried only me, some gear and full fuel. As Id been trained, I leaned the engine before the takeoff and let the airplane fly itself off the runway. I handled it gently until gaining enough airspeed to establish a proper climb and I had some altitude.

Mufflers

While carrying out Canadian AD CF90-03-R2, large leaks were found in the area surrounding the muffler tail pipe area under the structure for supporting the heat muff shroud. No defects were noticed in a visual inspection of this area. No data tag was on the muffler, so its assumed it is an original unit. The operators logs dont show it ever being changed.

Runway Incursions

There once was a time when piston singles were more prevalent at the Washington Dulles International Airport than they are today, and one evening I was in one of them, coming or going, on the ground control frequency. Another light airplane called for taxi clearance and, based on its position, was routed to a departure runway as far away as humanly possible from its parking spot. The pilot responded, Uh, ground, that looks kind of far; do you mind if we just fly over there?

Is ADS-B In Helping?

There probably are few pilots in the U.S. who arent aware of ADS-B and its In and Out flavors. The traffic and weather services ADS-B In brings to the cockpit have proven popular and inexpensive, portable receivers used with consumer-grade tablet computers have proliferated along with panel-installed equipment to bring enhanced situational awareness to even the lowliest cockpit. Yes, the data and information available through ADS-B In is for advisory purposes only-it cant be used in lieu of airborne radar or collision-avoidance equipment required by operating rules.

Dark Acceleration

I like to fly at night. The air generally is smoother, theres less traffic, the ATC frequencies are not as busy and ground illumination, the moon and the stars can compete in one of the best light shows youll ever see. Of course, humans were never meant to fly in the first place, and we often have difficulty actually seeing things at night. So we need to be mindful of night flyings risks and adopt procedures or limitations mitigating them.

Buddy System

Normally, I might have panicked, but with my experienced copilot at my side, I stayed calm. We talked through our options and decisions along as I continued to fly the plane. I began a series of small adjustments to the throttle and mixture to see how the engine responded. We quickly discovered these changes only made matters worse, so we left the settings as is. My buddy reminded me to stay high-altitude is our friend-and we looked for landing spots in case things deteriorated.

Cockpit Communication

I recently had the chance to chat with a long-time friend and pilot about some issues he had with an instructor while working through a flight review. The friend was concerned about the instructors critique of his flying, which included comments like, I didnt expect you to do that, and I would have done it differently. The friend wasnt necessarily complaining about the critique itself but the after-the-fact manner in which it was supplied. Ultimately, it undermined his confidence and he chose not to fly with that instructor again, taking his chances with someone different.

Losing Attitude

All other things being equal, one of the benefits of a primary flight display (PFD, which presents flight instrumentation on an electronic panel) is its use of a solid-state attitude and heading reference system, sometimes known as an AHARS. By using an AHARS to determine which side is up and in which direction the airplane is pointed, the vacuum-driven system is avoided and usually only an electrical system failure or failure of the display itself can eliminate the flight instruments. (Certification rules require backup flight instruments when a PFD is present but not when steam gauges are energized by a vacuum pump.)

Bad Bushings

Found damage on shock absorber assembly. Damage caused from the top boss contacting the shaft shock absorber shaft. The bushing was discovered missing on three aircraft at the same flight school. The manufacturer was notified of damage, affected parts replaced and the aircraft was returned to service. The quality/airworthiness department is currently reviewing work orders in an effort to isolate aircraft affected by this missing bushing. All three aircraft with missing bushings had between 1300 and 1400 hours total time.

Nationwide Roaming

Pilots fly for a variety of reasons. If youre like me, transportation is the main reason to own an airplane. Flying a single-engine general aviation airplane can be an effective way to travel for business and personal reasons, especially in this era of degrading, inflexible and unpredictable airline service. However, to safely use small aircraft for this purpose and manage the risks, you need to expand the scope of your typical planning efforts and be ready to change schedules and even cancel some portions of a trip. This is especially true if, like me, your travel requirements include the entire United States.

The Transactional Pilot

I tap on a location I observe to be free of obstructions, offering a clear approach corridor and suitable landing surface, and after I get the dot on my apps chart, I change its name to an approach course, e.g., like F17, or G18, and use those designators (you can make up any letter/number you wish), as Field/Approach 170 degrees, or for the other as Grass/Approach 180 degrees. The letters can be for road, crop, highway or water, or whatever looks better-as always, the closer to roads, the better for emergency services access.