Risk Management

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.

Nationwide Roaming

Pilots fly for a variety of reasons. If youre like me, transportation is the main reason to own an airplane. Flying a single-engine general aviation airplane can be an effective way to travel for business and personal reasons, especially in this era of degrading, inflexible and unpredictable airline service. However, to safely use small aircraft for this purpose and manage the risks, you need to expand the scope of your typical planning efforts and be ready to change schedules and even cancel some portions of a trip. This is especially true if, like me, your travel requirements include the entire United States.

Stress In The Cockpit

True story: A USAF F-105 Thunderchief pilot was shot down over North Vietnam, ejected and landed in the jungle. Coming up on his emergency radio, he was told a rescue mission was on the way, to hide out and to come back up on the frequency in an hour. The pilot waited for what seemed like an hour and called back; he once again was told to call back when the hour was up-in 55 more minutes.

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.

Passing The Ride

Expecting that I had somehow unknowingly blown my check ride, we landed, shut everything down and he informed me I had...well...passed! A bit confused but obviously glad I hadnt actually blown it, I accepted the good news not wishing to open my mouth and undo it, and simply thanked him. I never told my instrument instructor what the examiner had said, only that he passed me.

NTSB Reports

Upon raising the landing gear after takeoff, the gear motor continued to operate longer than normal, and the pilot heard an abnormal sound toward the end of the sequence. The right main gear was hanging at about a 45-degree angle, and the left main gear was not visible. The pilot completed the appropriate checklists, without change. The pilot declared an emergency and ATC confirmed during a fly-by that the main gear was not extended. During the landing, the nose gear remained extended and the two main gear were retracted. The airplane came to rest on the runway and the passengers egressed without further incident.

Single-Stage Go-Around

Convincing the airplane that youve changed your mind and now want to climb-at the best rate, by the way-requires adding power, arresting the descent and beginning a climb, reconfiguring the airplane and ensuring directional control. While the order in which we perform these tasks varies-check your POH/AFM for the details-we still have to fly the airplane as we accomplish them. That means we can be tempted to add full power when doing so is probably not what we want to do.

NTSB Reports

vertical stabilizer