After The Prop Stops

One of the oldest jokes in aviation holds that the big fan is there to cool the cockpit: Whenever it stops unexpectedly, the pilot starts to sweat. Every aviator whos had that experience can probably confirm a significant uptick in pulse and respiration. In the best case, thats accompanied by a corresponding intensification of focus, rapid execution of the memory steps of the emergency procedures checklist and efficient assessment of available alternatives. In the worst...well, those pilots arent available for interviews, but tapes of their radio transmissions can make for uncomfortable listening.

Shut Down

The recent partial shutdown of the U.S. federal government had a far-reaching impact on aviation, thanks to its parent Department of Transportation (DOT) being one of the agencies lacking an enacted appropriations bill for the current fiscal year. Since related agencies are tacked onto DOT spending bills, the NTSB also closed for the duration, delaying ongoing investigations and postponing new ones. (Our monthly listing of preliminary accident reports might look a bit strange until the NTSB has caught up with the backlog.)

FAA Proposes New AD On Piper Wing Spars

The April 4, 2018, crash of a Piper PA-28R-201 Arrow V operated by Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University (ERAU) continues to have repercussions. Most recently, the FAA has published a proposed airworthiness directive (AD) that would require inspecting each main wing spar of a wide range of Piper airplanes. The proposed AD is a response to the ERAU crash, which involved the inflight separation of the Piper Arrows left wing. Both aboard died and the airplane was destroyed.

Control System Servos

At FL400, the autopilot started porpoising and was turned off. Afterward, the aircraft would not trim properly. The crew diverted; it was difficult to keep it pitched down while descending. During the final phase of flight, the yoke was very difficult to input pitch changes, but was okay in the roll axis. After landing, troubleshooting duplicated the problem. Elevator servo (p/n 4006719914) was replaced with serviceable unit.

Whos In Charge?

I started my lessons (at 50 years old!) at an airport called Howell-New Lenox in Illinois. On my first solo, I had to go around due to a back taxi by another student with his instructor (my first exposure to being PIC in a two-pilot operation. But I was cool; I also learned that I was pretty calm in an abnormal situation-when Im alone.


People wouldnt fly personal aircraft-or participate in many other activities-if there werent benefits. Thats human nature. Some benefits we seek by taking risks are intangible and hard to quantify. Others can be readily identified and weighted. Its a calculus we all employ daily in mundane ways. However, the problem isnt that we fail to assess benefits when we analyze risk. Instead, the issue is the inaccurate values we assign on both sides of the equation.

Why Do We Stall?

Fixed-wing pilots start learning stall recognition and avoidance during pre-solo training. The private and sport pilot checkrides require recovering from developed stalls with minimal loss of altitude, and stall and spin awareness are (or at least should be) refreshed during flight reviews for the duration of ones flying career. But unintended stalls still put dozens of airplanes into the ground every year. Is it possible that stall training as currently practiced isnt as effective as it might be?

Ignition Switch Issues

The student pilot was doing an engine run prior to flight. Was unable on the first try to complete the magneto check as the key would not turn from the both position to the left/right/off position. After shutdown, the student was able to select off on the switch. The switch that was installed (p/n 103572101) included a push-to-start function. Found the switch sticking internally and replaced it with a new push-to-start switch.

Just Go Around

Its a moment you probably wont forget. After your instructor handed back your signed logbook and reached for the cockpit door, he or she reminded you, If anything about the landing doesnt look right, just go around.

Download the Full March 2018 Issue PDF

If youre an aircraft owner like me, you enjoy rolling up your sleeves and tackling various tasks to help maintain or preserve your airborne conveyance. Those tasks can be as simple as a wash and wax, or more complicated, like an engine oil and filter change, or other preventive maintenance (PM) items allowed in FAR 43s Appendix A. And if youre also busy like me, you may find it difficult to work these projects into your schedule. One result is starting a PM project and not having time to finish it. Thats a place I find myself.

Fuel Tank Frustrations

Right fuel tank cracked at top seam. Tank was replaced. Operator noticed a very loud oil canning sound from right wing after shutdown following a one-hour flight. Investigation revealed a partial blockage of the fuel tank vent, causing oil canning of fuel tank due to vacuum in fuel tank. Vent line was cleared and vented cap was replaced with new.

Download the Full December 2017 Issue PDF

When it does, that new generation of personal aircraft likely will include technologies designed to prevent accidents. Things like envelope protection, where the machine doesnt allow its pilot to put it into an unsafe situation. Technologies like GPS and ADS-B are a given, along with a networked operating environment where it and all other nearby aircraft talk to each other to manage collision avoidance, sequencing and efficient routing. Operator certification wont be nearly as complex, time-consuming or expensive as it is today.