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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.

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.

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.

IFR Route Changes

Sitting around and talking with pilot friends, you hear nonstop talk about aircraft and equipment. Eventually, someone always brings up ATC in conversation. Pilots argue among themselves more intensely than Socrates debating Plato. One question that new and even veteran pilots bring up is why, when they file an IFR flight plan, that their clearance is usually never as filed but includes a route change of some sort.

Rusty Pilots

The weight of the engine is only significant in that it is part of the center of gravity of the aircraft, which naturally lies aft of the main gear in a taildragger. Therein lies the problem, especially while landing. That center of gravity, without interference, will travel in a straight line when in motion, according to Newtons First law, which is often called inertia. It is imperative that we keep the airplane (longitudinal axis) tracking and aligned with that same straight line.

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.

Diesel Additive Again Contaminates Jet Fuel

After noting that five incidents of aircraft uncommanded roll events with the ATLAS activated have been reported to EASA and the FAA, the U.S. agency on May 24 issued an airworthiness directive (AD) grounding Cessna CitationJet 525, 525A and 525B models equipped with Tamarack active load alleviation system (ATLAS) winglets. The action is related to an EASA AD and is mandatory continuing airworthiness information (MCAI) issued by the aviation authority of another country to identify and correct an unsafe condition on an aviation product.

NTSB Reports

Radar data depicted the airplane flying northerly until about 1138, when it initiated a right turn to the south at about 400 feet msl. Witnesses then saw the airplane turn right to a westerly or northwesterly direction over land while radar depicted the airplane descending to about 200 feet msl. The airplane banked sharply left, and one witness observed the banner twist and separate. The airplane then banked to the right and impacted a 19-story condominium near its top floor. The airplane fell to the second floor deck and came to rest on its left side. Witnesses described the engine sound as either sputtering, operating normally or being at a low throttle setting.

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.

Local Phenomena

Checking the weather for a short afternoon flight showed visibility of more than 10 sm and clear skies locally, with a barely moving front off to the west. The forecast showed nothing unusual, although clouds and limited visibility were expected to arrive with nightfall several hours after my anticipated landing time. The temperature/dew point spread was narrow, but around the Great Lakes, we often had high humidity content at lower altitudes as moisture blew in off the water. Seeing ground-level dewpoints only a few degrees away from temperatures wasnt concerning. Overall, the weather looked great for a local sightseeing flight in the late afternoon.

Carrot, Meet Stick

Since the deadline was established, rumors about how the FAA will handle the coming transition have ranged from extending the deadline at the last minute to dismantling every non-compliant aircraft within Class B airspace and selling them for scrap on January 2. Im so old I remember when Mode C first was required in certain airspace, and ATC would routinely accommodate non-complying aircraft. Later, they wanted at least an hours notice, and the request could be denied. In my experience, ATC has always tried its best to cut some slack on Mode C, especially if everything was working when you took off.

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.