Regarding the discussion about whether or not to use the aircraft N-number when self-announcing at a non-towered airport (Unicom, February 2021), the most definitive answer would probably be the current issue of the Aeronautical Information Manual (AIM). Aviation Safety is correct in asserting that Advisory Circulars are advisory in nature. The AIM is as well unless the information is incorporated into a regulation by reference. However, Bob Hartmaier is (almost) correct, also. In Section 4-1-9, in Recommended Self Announce Procedures (6). the AIM states: “Report approximately 10 miles from the airport, reporting altitude, and state your aircraft type, aircraft identification, location relative to the airport….”
Bob suggests that if there were an accident or incident somehow associated with failing to use the recommended phraseology, an explanation would be required to the FAA. Actually, the explanation would probably have to be made to an NTSB Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) adjudicating a violation action brought by the FAA. We can’t be violated for failing to comply with advisory information; however, if that advisory information is tied to a regulatory violation, it could be used to support that charge.
For example, if I enter a right-hand traffic pattern at a non-towered airport that doesn’t specify an RP, and in doing so cause an accident or incident, the violation would be for failing to comply with FAR 91.126. If I also failed to use the proper recommended phraseology, that information could be provided to the ALJ as evidence that I’m not a very cognizant pilot. Most ALJs that I’ve met consider advisory information as the best way for a prudent pilot to operate.
I’ve not seen any information that ties self-announcing to ADS-B usage and I would agree that the traffic pattern is probably not the place for “inside” eyes.
Fred P. Harris – Via email
Thanks, Fred! We suspect we’ll continue to hear from readers with their takes. Our “favorite” part of non-towered operations is dealing with the pilots who come smoking into the pattern at 300 feet and 90 degrees to the active runway after shooting an approach. Meanwhile, read the next letter.
MAYHEM IN THE PATTERN
I just opened the February issue and had to counter and support your stance from the obviously way-behind aviator referring to an April 2020 issue on non-towered traffic reports.
I am chief flight instructor at a very busy Part 61 school, and I fly 650 hours a year with close to 100 different students during the same time frame. I see and hear way too many behind-the-times aviators who have not kept up with the many changes that have come along. I agree with you that the type of aircraft, and sometimes the color, are much more important as we are working in a non-towered environment than the registration number. I continually have to correct students that come to my school for an accelerated I-CFI course to use “Skyhawk” instead of “Cessna” when making calls. More than once I have had a Citation enter the final using the generic term of Cessna and causing mayhem with traffic already in the pattern.
Advisory Circular AC 90-66B has other flaws, primarily using the wording “recommended.” Pilots make illegal right turn entry into left patterns because of this flaw in wording by the FAA and justify it because of that wording. The FARs 91.126 and 91.127 cover this with no exception, and the FARs trump ACs and AIM recommendations.
Had this gentleman read AC 90-66B in its entirety, he would have also noted that we don’t announce intentions on the “Unicom” frequency. I wouldn’t be surprised if he still calls the flight review a BFR!
Recently, while conducting a FAAST CFI quarterly training session, a question addressed to the 42 in attendance was, “How many students have you endorsed in the past 12 months?” Seventy-five percent of those present had not endorsed any; 20 percent had one endorsement; the remaining five or more. I inquired with the FSDO FAAST coordinator why so little activity at a time when aviation, though not like the 1980s, is thriving. Shockingly, he responded that in his FSDO, 90 percent of CFIs maintain their certificates so they can give their buddies FRs. Scary.
Jay Turnbull – Loveland, Colo.
Thanks, Jay. See this month’s Quick Turns, beginning on page 22, for the NTSB’s concerns about the FAA’s CFI oversight.
THOSE WHO HAVE…
I subscribe to Aviation Safety to keep up to date on what is happening in general aviation. My background was in GA, I flight and ground instructed, flew for charter companies, corporations and airlines for over 50 years. The saying in aviation about a gear-up landing was “there are those who have and those who will.” Like the author of January’s article (“Those Who Have And Those Who Refuse To”), I never bought into that idea.
For my operations I always, before each takeoff and approach/landing, would check over the aircraft three times. I know it seems like too much, but I never heard the takeoff or gear warning horns. After engine start, configure the aircraft for takeoff, prior to leaving the ramp, so you can concentrate on taxiing. Look it over three times! Talk to yourself if you have to. Prior to landing again, check everything (the GUMP check) three times also, so when you do have get-home-itis and you’re tired, you at least get everything checked two times and maybe just once, but you will stay out of the FAA’s office.
Question for the article’s author: When you put the flaps to full, did you not get a gear horn? And get rid of those noise-canceling headsets; there are times you need to hear what is going on. Plus, the Bonanzas I flew were quiet.
Will Rondeau – Via email
We didn’t write that article, but we do have a lot of experience with similar-vintage Bonanzas and Barons. Their gear-unsafe warning horn activates when the throttle(s) is/are retarded beyond a specific position and the gear are not down and locked. There’s no flaps-up warning horn.
It’s way too easy to analyze someone else’s misfortune after the fact, but one of the final links in the chain of events was extending flaps before the landing gear. As the author noted, the resulting performance was similar to extending only the gear. Failing to perform a GUMP check before touchdown was the final link. He acknowledged his mistake in these pages and has changed his procedures.
And we’ll have to disagree about ANR headsets. We can still hear everything, including an iPad, and they help reduce fatigue and hearing loss.
LANDING ON THE SHORE
I second the letter by Morton Doran in your January issue regarding Mike Hart’s cover article in October 2020. The whole operation seemed a little sketchy to launch for just a “bucket-list” trip. Plenty of difficult flights are made to out-of-the-way places for some worthwhile missions. Not sure the risk/reward was there in this case.
Craig Baumberger – Greenville, Ill.