Fronts — Subscribers Only
Fronts in TAFs and weather briefings often mean a day of delays and canceled plans. Considering the impact that they have on flight operations, we should understand fronts. Let’s study them so you can make a good guess about the resulting weather. Our modern knowledge of fronts began around 1910 in the Bergen School of Meteorology in Norway. Their early work laid out the mathematics of forecasting and described fronts, showing that they are defined by a change in air mass density. Changes in wind speed, humidity, or pressure are all secondary.
Just like Albany in New York and Sacramento in California, you won’t find Maine’s capital buildings anywhere in the state’s thriving metropolis. Of course, that’s because Maine doesn’t really have a thriving metropolis. (Our biggest “city,” Portland only has 67,000 people and has issues, being dubbed the “other” Portland.) However, we do have a capital in our eleventh-largest town of Augusta, population 18,000. I’m told 17,993 of them are lawyers. Of the remaining seven, perhaps you’re visiting the guy who paints watercolors of the lovely view overlooking the Kennebec River.
With all the distractions in the cockpit—whether it’s loading the navigator, copying a clearance or simply dropping the only pen you brought along—it’s no surprise that close calls on the ground are still common. Perhaps not surprising, but not acceptable either. After all, we have a lot of tools to help us remain safe on the ground. We’ve had ground-safety procedures drilled into our heads in recent years. GPS is common now for taxiing, along with lots of signs and lights to guide us. So runway incursions and related incidents ought to be on the decline. As it turns out, though, things haven’t improved.
The FAA has released the medical requirements for the Pilot’s Bill of Rights 2 (PBOR2) and quite frankly, I think it is a home run for general aviation, pilots, and the AOPA who fostered it through Congress. The new program is called BasicMed that is technically the FAA’s implementation of medical requirements in the PBOR2 portion of the FAA Extension, Safety, and Security Act of 2016 known (of course) as FESSA. The final rule from the FAA, released January 10, 2017, and effective May 1, 2017, can be found on the FAA web site, FAA.gov.
Many of us routinely use GPS as sole-source navigation throughout our flights. Congratulations; you’re leveraging the benefits of Performance Based Navigation. That’s good. We have thousands of RNAV (GPS) approaches, many with vertical guidance, and they’re far safer, more reliable and more accurate than ground-based approaches. We often fly direct or nearly so. All these advances are reshaping the National Airspace System (NAS) and the way we fly IFR, but PBN is still young.
A reader, a helo pilot from the U.S. Coast Guard, wrote to ask some interesting questions. It seems they’d just had an FMS upgrade that enables them to fly RNAV (GPS) approaches. All the approach holds that are course reversals (hold in lieu of procedure turn, HILPT) are shown with four-nautical-mile legs. He asked if it is required to fly the entire leg length. The e-mail discussion evolved to ask if a charted hold, such as a missed approach hold, also had mandatory leg lengths. These probing questions prompted some interesting virtual discussions at IFR.