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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.

Managing Risk In Aircraft Certification

Most of my articles for this journal focus on managing the risk of flying piston-powered general aviation aircraft, with examples of good and poor risk management. But risk management is at least equally critical in the world of operating airliners and turbine-powered transport category aircraft. Recent air carrier accidents provide illustration and lessons relevant to operating small general aviation aircraft, especially when designing and certifying them. In fact, and just as during flight operations, the job of managing risk in the design and certification is to identify, assess and mitigate that risk. These procedures apply even more objectively when using rigid design criteria, especially when they involve transport category aircraft.

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.

Air Mass Storms

I used to ground myself when I saw a forecast of thunderstorm weather. I had an immediate visceral response rooted in memories of growing up in Kansas, seeing vast tornado-spawning squall lines, their blue-green tint indicating they were pregnant with hail. At age 11, I watched a barn across the road explode in one of those storms, flying in pieces across the fields, followed by a barrage of baseball-sized hail. Surely you cant fly when convective weather and thunderstorms are nearby or on the way, can you? Well, Dorothy, sometimes you can. You just need to know what to look for and what to avoid.

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.

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 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.

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?

Child Is My Copilot

Squirreled away in a shoe box somewhere, I have a 3 x 5 print (remember those?) of my then-infant son bundled into the back seat of a Cessna 172. It was his first flight, and Im proud to have been the pilot to initiate him, even though he doesnt remember it. I dont have a formal record, but both he and my slightly younger daughter have since logged enough time as my passengers to easily meet the minimum total time required for a private certificate. But before that first flight, his mother and I researched what steps we could take to make it successful.

Three IFR Curveballs

Flying IFR can get deceptively routine. Most of the time, it means taking off, climbing, cruising, descending, and an approach and landing-all along well-defined routes and usually in VMC. The majority of IFR pilots tend to fly the same routes and procedures again and again, to the point they might memorize communications frequencies and even approach minimums. Its possible to be extremely proficient at the type of flying you usually do while letting other skills atrophy.

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.)