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Risk Management

Winter Weather Tools

Like it or not, winter weather is upon us here in North America. After a few brief weeks of not as much thunderstorm activity, were headed squarely into a a couple of months featuring widespread near-freezing temperatures and precipitation. From storing our airplane, to preflighting it, picking a route and ensuring our destination doesnt have any slippery surprises, winter weather will have an impact on our operations, likely even if we stay in the pattern at a Southern California airport.

Lean Of Peak EGT

Its basic human nature that we often want to improve the efficiency of the things we do. Its also human nature to be skeptical when were offered something of value that carries little or no cost: Wheres the catch? What am I giving up to benefit from this largesse? These can be legitimate questions, and they deserve detailed answers, no matter whats being offered. When considering how pilots use the mixture control to manage aircraft piston engines, desires to improve efficiency and healthy skepticism can intersect.

Notam Changes Coming

Notams have had a rocky decade, getting most of the blame in 2010 when the FAA accused U.S. Senator James Inhofe (R-Okla.) of landing on a closed runway in Texas. He maintained he researched applicable Notams as part of his preflight planning, but didnt find one for his destination. The FAA didnt agree and brought an enforcement action against the Senator. In turn, Inhofe developed and in 2012 saw enacted the Pilots Bill of Rights, which among other things mandated an overhaul of the Notam system. Subsequent legislation-2015s Pilots Bill of Rights 2, also by Inhofe-sought to further improve the Notam experience for pilots. Its the legislation that created the BasicMed option to traditional FAA medical certificates.

Home For The Holidays?

At least in North America, that also can be the dead of winter for many locations, and the personal airplanes many of us fly just arent equipped to cope. For example, and other than a warm pitot tube, they generally lack anti-ice equipment. They likely may not have the range or endurance to reliably avoid weather, or retreat to solid-gold alternates. For non-instrument-rated pilots, the challenges can be even grimmer: Low ceilings and visibilities can wreck carefully made schedules by forcing us to stay on the ground.

Propeller Problems

During a routine training flight, the right engine was intentionally shut down to demonstrate inflight restarts. After a normal shutdown and securing procedure, the engine master switch was switched back to on per the checklist. Usually, this drives the propeller out of feather, and the restart procedure is continued. Instead, the propeller did not unfeather, even after attempting several troubleshooting procedures. The flight returned safely on the left engine.

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?