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Weekly tips, technique and training from IFR.

ASOS equipment site
This system is typical of over 900 U.S. ASOS systems that provide METARs and SPECIs. Note the display in the tower.

Weather Multitasking

Tower controllers arent always just working airplanes. Theyre watching and recording the weather too, making sure youve got the latest and greatest information.

For the moment, we’ll begin with a nickel tour of both the ATC and the national aviation weather systems. Naturally, there’s some overlap between them. The FAA air traffic control system is one big ol’ network. The chain of command begins with the ATC System Command Center in Virginia, which provides oversight and coordination between the biggest ATC facilities, the Air Route Traffic Control Centers.

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discontinuous aircraft wing

Loss of Control

Forty percent of all fatal GA accidents are attributed to itone every four daysand instrument pilots often fall victim. Maybe we should be paying attention.

Loss of control in-flight (LOC-I) is the leading killer in GA, with more fatal accidents than the next six causes combined. The Colgan 3407 and Air France 447 crashes brought LOC-I to the forefront. We’re forced to ask how we can lose control of perfectly good airplanes. The American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics identified LOC-I as “the most significant cause of commercial aviation fatalities worldwide.”

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pilot logbook

Can You Log That?

Logging should be simple but when or if you can log an instrument approach for currency has almost as many opinions as people to ask. Here, finally, are the right answers.

Within the IFR community, there has been much confusion over how and when to log instrument approaches. The FAA extended that confusion to logging approaches in a simulator as we wrote in the December issue, “Need a Sim Instructor?”

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GPS Backup Strategies

General Aviation is increasingly dependent on GPS. So much so, in fact, that the FAA is getting rid of many VORs. But, what if the satellites stop working?

In the October 2015 issue of IFR, I noted that the VOR reduction plan included a provision for something called the Minimum Operational Network, or MON. The FAA says that MON is specifically aimed “at lower-end GA IFR aircraft in case of a GPS outage.” I added that MON is a transitional strategy to get to something called APNT, or Alternate Positioning and Timing. Let’s dig into this and explore the GPS backup support you can expect in the future as we transition from terrestrial to satellite navigation.

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Weather Multitasking

Tower controllers arent always just working airplanes. Theyre watching and recording the weather too, making sure youve got the latest and greatest information.

For the moment, we’ll begin with a nickel tour of both the ATC and the national aviation weather systems. Naturally, there’s some overlap between them. The FAA air traffic control system is one big ol’ network. The chain of command begins with the ATC System Command Center in Virginia, which provides oversight and coordination between the biggest ATC facilities, the Air Route Traffic Control Centers.

Continue Reading

Garmin Flight Stream

Flight Stream adds a lot to IFR flying, keeping panel and portable devices synchronized and displaying higher resolution weather. But it takes a little effort to get started.

Like many active pilots, I’ve enthusiastically embraced the transition to digital technology in the cockpit. The panel in our V35B Bonanza is well equipped for instrument flight, with Garmin navigators and an Aspen Evolution EFD1000 Pro primary flight display. But, I also wanted to add ADS-B traffic and weather information, and a way to carry instrument charts electronically without compromising safety.

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TERPZ departure route description

Readback: February 2016

For years I’ve been suggesting to NACO to stop using nonsense five-letter identifiers that were impossible to pronounce and usually led to confusion in actual IMC, and replace them with numerical identifiers. I read December’s “Need a Sim Instructor?” with great interest because I have a FlyThisSim TouchTrainer BATD with a current LOA. BWI was recently clearing departures to fly the TERPZ FIVE from Runway 15R. The plan view of the procedure has the notation in the top-right corner of the first page: Top Altitude 4000.

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Briefing: February 2016

After over 18 years in development, Honda Aircraft’s first airplane, a twin-engine single-pilot light jet, received FAA certification in December. When the FAA opened their drone registry in December, they succeeded in getting plenty of media attention, but they had less success getting the entire user community on board. In November, the SkiGull, Burt Rutan’s 47th (and last, he said) aircraft design flew for the first time, from a lake in Idaho. The one-of-a-kind two-seat seaplane is equipped to land on water, runways or snow. Private pilots can let their friends chip in for gas under the FAA’s rules, but that doesn’t mean they can advertise online to fill empty seats on a private plane and “cost-share,” the FAA has said. JetBlue announced in November it plans an “ab-initio” training program for its Embraer SA E190 crews.

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pilot logbook

Practical Logging

On the heels of the controversy about logging time in a simulator, the FAA has given us an InFO that unequivocally provides clear guidance about when we can log an approach. That’s guidance that we’ve been lacking, so we’re glad to see it.

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