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Filing Direct?

Since Eric is a working controller, I respect his advice. I was a little surprised when he stated that filing direct grinds controllers gears. With GPS capability, filing direct has saved me a lot of time and money. It was never realized that doing so was creating a problem for anyone. It was not done as a sign of laziness or to engage in a bad practice, but to get in and out of the ATC system as quickly and efficiently as possible.

Over-Water Risks

Its an aviation clich that your single engine goes into automatic rough when crossing any significant body of water. To be sure, any engine problem while beyond gliding distance from land is a critical problem, even if you have more than one. When flying a single, its everything. Another clich is that most of us dont bother to analyze the real risks of overwater flying. Any water crossing of any significance-and wed put the Great Lakes, Hawaii and Bahamas in that basket-should be carefully planned to ensure risks are mitigated to acceptable levels. The thing is, both clichs are true more often than not.

Picking Up The Pieces

I spend a lot of my flying in the Idaho backcountry, where there are a lot of challenging but worthwhile airstrips. But it's not a forgiving environment since go-arounds can be problematic and density altitude means pilots may not be accustomed to the reduced performance. After decades in the business, Patrick has a lot of lived experience seeing a wide variety of crashed planes, especially in the backcountry. As a window into answering the eternal question "Why do pilots crash?" I felt his insights would be valuable.

Top Five Owner Maintenance Tasks

The FAA's FAR 43.3 says "the holder of a pilot certificate [other than a sport pilot certificate] issued under Part 61 may perform preventive maintenance on any aircraft owned or operated by that pilot which is not used under Part 121, 129, or 135...." Appendix A of FAR 43, meanwhile, details what tasks are considered "preventive maintenance." Everything we're suggesting in this article flows from Part 43's definition of what constitutes preventive maintenance (PM). If you're not afraid of getting some grease under your fingers, you can save a lot of time and money performing regular maintenance tasks yourself. Here are our top five projects you may consider performing.

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.

Our Airplanes Are Aging

The event perhaps most demonstrative of what can happen as an aircraft ages occurred on April 28, 1988, over Hawaii. Thats when an Aloha Airlines Boeing 737-200 operating in scheduled passenger service as Flight 243 between Hilo and Honolulu lost part of its cabin roof while in cruise at FL240. The crew successfully landed the airplane after diverting to Maui. Of the 89 passengers and six crewmembers aboard, there was one fatality-a flight attendant who was swept overboard during the decompression event.

Dude, Wheres My Clearance?

There are two basic ways to obtain an IFR clearance in the U.S. before departing a non-towered airport. One is to telephone Flight Service directly and get the clearance over the phone. Another is to use a remote communications outlet (RCO) to contact Flight Service or a ground communications outlet (GCO) to reach ATC over your aircrafts communication radio. In both cases, of course, youre likely to receive a clearance with a void time, since ATC cant see you on radar until youre airborne, and has to block off some portion of the airspace around your departure airport to ensure separation, at least until youre in radar contact.

Preflight, Interrupted

The airline industry long ago figured out that one of the most dangerous things in aviation is two pilots trying to fly the same airplane at the same time. One inevitable result of such an arrangement is that there are times when no one is flying, and one of the ways we know this is from the accident record. Airlines evolved the pilot-flying/pilot-not-flying concept to acknowledge this characteristic of crewed cockpits and established clear responsibilities for each pilot.

Engine-Out Energy Management

Moreover, the FAAs Airman Certification Standards (ACS) for private and commercial certificates specify that pilots are to have knowledge of EM concepts for many maneuvers. They include emergency approach and landing, soft-field/rough-field landing, normal approach and landing, short-field landing, various types of water landings, power-off 180-degree accuracy approach and landing and go-around/rejected landing. The word knowledge implies pilots should have, at least, a basic understanding of EM concepts and be able to apply these concepts to tasks in the FAAs ACS.

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.