Airmanship

Five Reasons Not To Fly A Coupled Approach

And like every other technology, autopilots have their limitations. For one, they have to be set up correctly-along with the navigation equipment-to reliably follow a heading and descend along a glidepath. Details like when to take over from the autopilot, how you might handle an equipment failure-if you notice it-and even whether to let Otto fly the missed approach or do it yourself need to be worked out ahead of time. Thats the short version of why we might want to consider hand-flying the approach. Lets expand on them.

Other Airplanes

For example, a large flying club I was in a few years back had a pair of Cessna Cardinal RGs. They were getting a bit long in the tooth, but were roomy and relatively fast, and they were good cross-country airplanes. They also were configured basically the same, with two nav/comms but little else: no autopilot, for example, GPS or DME. After getting to know them both, I came to prefer the blue-and-white one over the orange version, since it was a bit younger and cleaner. Neither let me down, but one was sold to someone outside the club and, shortly thereafter, another pilot landed the remaining Cardinal RG gear-up.

Catching Up

By the time you read this, Ill be getting my Debonair out of its annual inspection. Its been a lengthy one, in part because of some items I had deferred from previous inspections and in part because the airplane was new to the shop doing the work. Basically, I decided it was time to catch up on a few wear-and-tear items that pop up with any kind of machine, from a Roomba vacuum cleaner to a personal airplane.

Power And Pitch

If youre like me, youve been watching the ongoing saga of Boeing and its 737 MAX. The gist of it for our purposes is that the new MAX versions of the 737 are powered by larger-diameter engines than the type was originally designed to accommodate. Since the 1980s-when Boeing switched from the types original low-bypass Pratt & Whitney JT8D engines to the CFM International CFM56-the reduced ground clearance when mounting high-bypass powerplants featuring improved fuel economy has required flattening the bottom of the cowlings. It was cheaper and easier than redesigning the landing gear, which is too short to accommodate the larger engines.

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.

Flying On The Ground

Your primary training probably included a diagram explaining where the elevator and aileron controls should be positioned based on where the wind is coming from while taxiing. When we have such wind conditions-and even when we dont, if we want to be honest- we can and should use the ailerons to help control the airplane on the ground. Alas, we dont always have that diagram available, and its easy to forget whether the upwind wings aileron should be down or up. (Hint: It depends.) Lets try to come up with a one-size-fits-all understanding of when and how to use ailerons on the ground.

Air Filters

Receiving inspection of new air filters (p/n P107336) revealed three out of four had a defective sealing surface, causing the sealing/mating surface to crack and crumble. This defective sealing surface could potentially enter the engine. The defective filters sealing surface has a light-gray color while the replacement filters we received, inspected and found to be in serviceable condition had a dark gray, almost black sealing surface. Suspect that the defective filters had improper material on the sealing surface or were improperly cured.

Flying Your Propeller

Remember that propeller blades are airfoils moving in a plane different from and usually perpendicular to the direction of flight. As an airfoil, the amount of lift the blade creates when moving through the air depends on its angle of attack, and its angle of attack-plus drag-can depend on a variety of factors, including the airplanes pitch attitude. Remember, too, that the outer portions of long prop blades move faster-they cover greater distance in the same amount of time-than shorter ones.

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.