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.
The plane was configured for landing with full flaps, a rich-enough mixture and the prop set for high RPM. I was decelerating from crossing the fence at 70 KIAS. As I pulled off some of the remaining power and began to flare, the bottom fell out about 25 feet above the runway. I already had established a nose-up attitude for the tricycle-gear airplanes touchdown, but our descent rate suddenly increased sharply as the gusty crosswind basically disappeared at the wrong time. To compensate, I pulled back on the yoke even more, increasing our pitch attitude in the hope doing so would compensate for the sudden loss of altitude and I could salvage a smooth touchdown. But it was not to be. For the first time in a long time, I really bounced the landing. Both main struts contacted the paved runway at the same time, compressed and then extended, pushing us back in the air. There we were, maybe six or eight feet in above the runway, with idle power and decaying airspeed. What to do?
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.
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.
After overflying the destination runway, the crew made a steeper-than-normal approach to the 3880-foot-long runway due to terrain. According to the captain, a bump was felt near the threshold during the landing but it was not extreme. As the propellers were reversed, the airplane veered to the right. The crew corrected and the airplane tracked straight for about 2000 feet before veering sharply right, exiting the runway and spinning 180 degrees. Inspection of the runway threshold revealed several four-foot-tall piles of rocks and dirt.
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.
January 1, 2020, is fast approaching. Thats the date on which ADS-B Out surveillance gear will be required in certain U.S. airspace, basically where you need Mode C now. But you know that; this and other aviation publications have been beating that drum for most of a decade. As the industry nears a deadline weve all known about since 2010, its not unreasonable to look back at what additional technology ADS-B has spawned, then take a quick look at the crystal ball to try divining what might come next.
Since Eric is a working controller, I respect his advice. I was a little surprised when he stated that filing direct grinds controllers gears. With GPS capability, filing direct has saved me a lot of time and money. It was never realized that doing so was creating a problem for anyone. It was not done as a sign of laziness or to engage in a bad practice, but to get in and out of the ATC system as quickly and efficiently as possible.
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.
Fuel flow was erratic, with a slight fuel leak from pump drains. Inspection revealed debris in servo screens. Teardown report showed drive couplings pitted, blades and liners scored, rotors worn. Debris in servo filter appeared to be pieces of the liner. Replaced both pumps. (The same engine-driven fuel pumps (p/n 200F5002) were installed new at engine overhaul. They were replaced at 372 hours and 389.7 hours. The pumps removed had 776.3 and 794.0 hours.
The anonymity many groups are seeking is at the aircraft level. For years, operators have been able to block their registration from appearing in the FAAs Aircraft Situation Display to Industry (ASDI) data stream, preventing the public from tracking the aircraft. Both the 978 UAT and 1090ES standards transmit registration in a non-encrypted 24-bit ICAO code specifically assigned to each aircraft.
I spend a lot of my flying in the Idaho backcountry, where there are a lot of challenging but worthwhile airstrips. But it's not a forgiving environment since go-arounds can be problematic and density altitude means pilots may not be accustomed to the reduced performance. After decades in the business, Patrick has a lot of lived experience seeing a wide variety of crashed planes, especially in the backcountry. As a window into answering the eternal question "Why do pilots crash?" I felt his insights would be valuable.