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All of these have different scales, ranging from hours and a few miles with the mountain breeze to thousands of miles and days to weeks with trade winds. Knowing which circulation normally affects your weather and which is dominant at the moment is what I would call one of the secrets to understanding the forecast. If the wind direction is normally 150 degrees on September afternoons, seeing 120 degrees tells you the wind is driven by something different.
Pilots were (and still are) over using automation, resulting in too much head-down button-pushing. The result was (is) an increase in situational awareness errors and loss-of-separation in particular. One flight crew got so absorbed entering a simple runway sidestep that they landed without a clearance. As the presenter advised, sometimes it’s better to reduce the level of automation for a given task. He summed it up nicely—we’re pilots, not automation managers; fly the plane first and keep up those manual skills.
The ATC Handbook, FAA Order 7110.65, Paragraph 4-2-8 directs controllers to ask this of VFR aircraft seeking an IFR clearance in the air until they reach the minimum IFR altitude (MIA), typically, ATC’s minimum vectoring altitude or the published MEA. “If the pilot is able to maintain terrain and obstruction separation,” the Handbook states, “issue the appropriate clearance… If unable to maintain terrain and obstruction separation, instruct the pilot to maintain VFR and to state intentions.”
One commenter expressed approval of the cancellation of a circling procedure only if all runways accessible by the procedure have a straight-in IAP with lower minimums than in the canceled procedure. The FAA replied that its policy is not meant to assure straight-in IAPs for every runway end, but rather to minimize redundancy. While cancelling some circling procedures might reduce airport accessibility, runway availability will be unaffected. You might have to fly further to get access to your approach, but its availability will stay the same.
How about airplanes already on the ramp? Maybe an airliner advises he’s pushing back, but another one’s already pushed in his way. We’ll say, “Use caution, Boeing 737 pushed back behind you. Advise ready to taxi.” It’s both a safety and a time reminder. Watch out for the other guy, and it may be a couple minutes before he can push. We’re well aware airlines typically have ramp personnel “wing-walking” beside them, checking for obstacles. However, stuff happens. We’re just covering our bases.
Suppose that I am faced with an either-or situation with my autopilot. If I were told I couldn’t use the autopilot at either cruise or while being vectored and flying an approach, I’d chose to use it on approach. Sure, autopilots help relieve the tedium of long cross-country flights, but they regularly change a stressful approach into a rewarding experience. Let’s look at some general tips, then take a close look at how to get the most from your autopilot on approach.