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Aircraft Cockpit Proficiency
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Aircraft Cockpit Proficiency

In the age of satellite navigation, electronic instrumentation and multi-function displays with moving maps, each aircraft is different. Just because you can fly an Avidyne Integra-equipped Cirrus doesn’t mean you can jump into a Perspective (a.k.a. Garmin G1000) Cirrus. Or, for that matter, even an old steam-gauge Piper. Now we need proficiency not just on an instrument scan and IFR procedures, but on the installed devices as well.

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Missed Approaches

Missed Approaches

Some missed approaches require circling climbs to a holding fix overhead. Simple enough, but words can be deceiving. Maybe you should get the whole picture beforehand.

Climbing to hold over an airport to wait for better weather or traffic is nearly always referenced against a VOR that is located on or very close to the airport, so you really can’t get lost. Plus, there’s at least one runway right below in case of any issues that might develop. What’s more, obstacle clearance is straightforward—poles, towers and trees are only so tall and you don’t have to worry about encountering significant terrain rising up from the airport itself.

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Flying in a Thunderstorm

Flying in a Thunderstorm

Pilots get a pass for confessing to the Aviation Safety Reporting System, while the private sector (Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University), not the U.S. government, maintains one of the largest online repositories of NTSB accident documents. There’s no shortage of lessons to be learned and a great culture of diffusing this hard-won wisdom. So, let’s delve into a few randomly selected NTSB accident reports, supplemented by any available press stories.

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CFIT on Departure

CFIT on Departure

ATC departure instructions can be a set-up for a run-in with obstacles. Knowing your responsibility within those instructions will help keep you safely above the obstacles.

Pilot responsibilities differ from a controller’s. The regs state, the “pilot in command of an aircraft is directly responsible for, and is the final authority as to, the operation of that aircraft.” This authority and responsibility is granted with the intention that it’s used to ensure safety—a pilot’s primary obligation. Yet, pilots keep having controlled flight into terrain (CFIT) accidents, often with fatalities. It’s the second leading cause of commercial aviation fatalities worldwide. NTSB Board Member Robert Sumwalt described CFIT as “the problem that never went away.” CFIT frequently occurs at night or in IMC.

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Flight Traffic Displays

Flight Traffic Displays

Marginally effective, see-and-avoid is based on the big sky theory; the sky is big and airplanes are small so the chances of running into each other are minimal. Our vision limitations in an airplane combined with massive blind spots foreshadow disaster. In 2014, pilots reported 163 near mid-air collisions. Most involved GA. Who knows how many occurred without either pilot realizing?

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Technology Gotchas

Technology Gotchas

First we got an e-mail from a reader concerned that Garmin was removing airports with runways under 4000 feet from their worldwide database. Next, a reader related a situation where he’d been cleared direct to a fix that wasn’t in his Garmin GNS 430, but it showed up when he loaded an RNAV arrival. These produced some internal discussions and one of our staff related a story from a friend of his who’d busted a stepdown fix altitude because the stepdown fix wasn’t depicted on the approach in his Bendix-King KLN-94.

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Aircraft Cockpit Proficiency

Aircraft Cockpit Proficiency

In the age of satellite navigation, electronic instrumentation and multi-function displays with moving maps, each aircraft is different. Just because you can fly an Avidyne Integra-equipped Cirrus doesn’t mean you can jump into a Perspective (a.k.a. Garmin G1000) Cirrus. Or, for that matter, even an old steam-gauge Piper. Now we need proficiency not just on an instrument scan and IFR procedures, but on the installed devices as well.

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Readback August 2016

Certainly following the airways and the MEAs, and then descending over an initial approach fix or hold would be best. I was just thinking of a case when we weren’t on an airway, like between Keflavik, Iceland (BIKF) and Narsarsuaq, Greenland (BGBW). We wanted to make sure we were above the OROCA and MSAs for that area when we were descending. I guess we could have stayed at our filed FL170 until over the hold, but given that the airport is at sea level we wanted to start a prudently safe descent beforehand.

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Small World

Small World

Aviation is a small world; there are a limited number of topics on which one can write. Additionally, journalism is a specific enough trade that when you combine it with aviation, you have a very small world indeed. Thus, it’s inevitable that there occur certain overlaps and (gasp!) even certain duplications. Granted, this one innocently went too far, but just how many unique articles can be written about a single, odd approach without covering the same ground?

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Aviation News August 2016

After several years of work, the FAA has released new Airman Certification Standards for the private pilot and instrument ratings. Piper Aircraft in June announced that its $2.9 million M600 six-seat single-engine turboprop is now FAA certified, and features an all-new wing, Garmin G3000 touchscreen avionics, and a new interior. At the European Business Aviation Convention and Exhibition, held in May in Geneva, Textron announced new details about its clean-sheet single-engine turboprop design, and said it’s now accepting letters of intent from buyers. Icon Aircraft CEO Kirk Hawkins said in May that deliveries of the long-awaited A5 light sport aircraft won’t begin until at least next year, citing delays and difficulties in setting up the production line and supply chain. The FAA says it will offer $500 rebates to aircraft owners who install ADS-B Out systems, but the program, which starts this fall, is limited to one year and 20,000 owners.

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On the Air August 2016

At my airline we have ACARS, a datalink with the ground that we use to get various flight-related information. We also get text versions of weather and ATIS. The ATIS text is the same thing that the controllers program into the automated, synthesized-voice “Drunken Dutchman” recording that you also hear on VHF. Since the automated voice seems to struggle with the pronunciation of certain words and acronyms, the controllers have gotten adept at programming the text so the voice is more legible over the air. At Seattle then, the audible “RNAV GPS” becomes “RNAV JEEPY ES” on the ACARS printout.

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Download the Full August Issue PDF

Download the Full August Issue PDF

If you need realistic switches and levers in realistic locations, you’ll need a bigger budget. Much bigger. Flight Training Devices (FTDs) put actual avionics, or near-exact replicas thereof, in realistic cockpits. If one of these sims offers a G1000, that’s a real G1000 display. The “Level” simulators at the sim centers and airlines are of this type. These can cost as much as many airplanes (like $250,000 and up). In partnership with a flight school that might work, but it’s not what most of us put in our basement.

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