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Risk Management

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.

ADS-B Shenanigans?

Thank you for printing in Augusts magazine the short letter I wrote, highlighting an issue I encountered just south of the Albany, N.Y., Class C airspace-a Cub showing an ADS-B altitude of 500 feet below sea level. (By the way, I passed the same Cub today at very close range. This time he wasnt showing up at all on ADS-B). In your response, you asked readers to report other anomalies, so heres one from a week or so ago.

ADS-B Shenanigans?

Thank you for printing in Augusts magazine the short letter I wrote, highlighting an issue I encountered just south of the Albany, N.Y., Class C airspace-a Cub showing an ADS-B altitude of 500 feet below sea level. (By the way, I passed the same Cub today at very close range. This time he wasnt showing up at all on ADS-B). In your response, you asked readers to report other anomalies, so heres one from a week or so ago.

NTSB Reports

A witness observed the accident airplane at about 30 feet agl without its landing gear extended, and it was not extended when the airplane began to flare. Examination revealed the runway surface showed striated gouges and two long skid marks tracing the airplanes path from the runway.

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.

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.

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?

Buddy System

Normally, I might have panicked, but with my experienced copilot at my side, I stayed calm. We talked through our options and decisions along as I continued to fly the plane. I began a series of small adjustments to the throttle and mixture to see how the engine responded. We quickly discovered these changes only made matters worse, so we left the settings as is. My buddy reminded me to stay high-altitude is our friend-and we looked for landing spots in case things deteriorated.

Cockpit Stress

Knowing of the low overcast, if that pilots autopilot had this auto-capture feature, his motivation would have been to ease his workload and obviate spatial disorientation during transition into the clag. The effect of his action would have been to capture the airport elevation as target altitude. The TruTrak, at least, takes a few seconds to process and implement settings, so that the airplane would be expected to do exactly what it did: ascend into the clouds and a few seconds later return to the preset target altitude of the runway.

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.)

Superior Pulls Engines From Service

When we first learned of the breadth of the detonation problem, we contacted XP-400 engine owners and paid to have them ship their engines to our facility for evaluation, Superiors Bill Ross told sister publication Kitplanes. We disassembled, inspected and tested the key components in each engine, he said, but even after adjusting the ignition timing specification, the results were still unsatisfactory. In response, the company decided to ground affected engines and create a buyback program.