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Weekly tips, technique and training from IFR.

February 2019

Full Issue (PDF)

Download The Full February 2019 Issue PDFSubscribers Only

You already have a transponder that transmits a dumb and blind signal in response to interrogation from other sources. Well, it’s not entirely “dumb” in that you can enter a four-digit base-eight (no 8s or 9s) code on the instrument and when the transponder responds to an interrogation, it puts that code and even your present altitude (to the nearest 100 feet) onto its outgoing signal. ADS-B Out keeps that but takes it a bit further.

Briefing

Briefing: February 2019

On December 13, Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShip Two, VSS Unity, made its first trip to space, reaching an altitude of 51.4 miles, just above the 50-mile boundary defined by NASA. “Today, for the first time in history, a crewed spaceship, built to carry private passengers, reached Space,” said Virgin Galactic CEO Richard Branson. “We will now push on with the remaining portion of our flight-test program.” The commercial space sector “has great potential,” said FAA acting administrator Dan Elwell after the flight. “The FAA is committed to helping ensure commercial space transportation grows safely.” VSS Unity was lifted to 43,000 feet by the WhiteKnightTwo carrier aircraft, and carried a crew of two pilots, and four NASA experiments.

Features

Weather ObservationsSubscribers Only

The ASOS system was developed in the late 1980s to relieve the expense of maintaining human observers at hundreds of sites, improve consistency of observations, and bring high-quality observations to rural and remote airports. Much like NEXRAD it was a joint product of the FAA, NWS, and DoD, and was fielded at 1000 US airports between 1991 and 2004. Its main components are temperature, dewpoint, and wind sensors, along with new technology like sky condition, present weather, and visibility sensors.

Which One—Ils or LPV?

Some years ago, I was flying with a pilot in his Cessna. He was instrument rated, while I was working on mine. I watched him enjoying the two perfectly centered needles (old-style CDIs) accompanying the six-pack panel while flying to a VOR at 6000 feet. He remarked with a sigh of contentment, “Now this is the way to fly.” It sure was, especially for me, when I was building time in budget-friendly trainers where dual (working) CDIs was a luxury.

Report LeavingSubscribers Only

In the case of the departure, and from a certain perspective, I could call that report a requirement. The respective approach/center controller is required to verify your altitude anyway to make sure it is what they are seeing on their screens, just like the Tower controller is required to make sure you are squawking the right code before they switch you. As you continue your climb, and as annoying as it can be, the verification requests could continue on every new frequency, and certainly with each new facility. While your initial departure and the climb is where you will report leaving an altitude the most, what about when you’re at cruise or even up in the flight levels?

WENAS ReturnsSubscribers Only

Depart Tri-Cities for Yakima from Runway 21R. You filed PSC V298 YKM and got a clearance with, “Cleared to the Yakima airport via Tri-Cities 7 then as filed. Climb and maintain 6000.” Use real-world weather so the winds are variable for this day. Or, if you must, dial up 800-foot ceilings and a wind out of the southwest. Set the radios, brief your route. Then fire up and taxi out. Assume Tower’s last words to you were, “...on departure, fly runway heading. Runway 21R, cleared for takeoff.”

CFTT Precedes CFIT

IFR separation from other aircraft is well-understood in our community. Within the controller community there is something additional called terrain separation. A loss of terrain separation occurs when an aircraft enters a chunk of airspace at an altitude below the prescribed minimums. Minimum vectoring (or instrument) altitudes aren’t published, so initially they’re the controller’s responsibility. Busting either is CFTT, but they are not the sole province of ATC. Pilots also cause CFTTs. Let’s look in our own house first.

Sorting Out ADS-BSubscribers Only

You already have a transponder that transmits a dumb and blind signal in response to interrogation from other sources. Well, it’s not entirely “dumb” in that you can enter a four-digit base-eight (no 8s or 9s) code on the instrument and when the transponder responds to an interrogation, it puts that code and even your present altitude (to the nearest 100 feet) onto its outgoing signal. ADS-B Out keeps that but takes it a bit further.

On the Air

On The Air: February 2019

In August my wife won three free tickets to an NFL pre-season game. We live a few hours away from the stadium, so we decided to fly there. Any excuse to fly, right? I got to the airport earlier in the day (about a half-hour drive from our house) to preflight, and my wife drove up with her dad just before our planned departure time. A few minutes after receiving our IFR clearance to Charlotte/Douglas International Airport—we had been airborne for about 5 minutes—my wife tapped my shoulder with the most panicked looked I’d seen. She had left the tickets at home.

Readback

Readback: February 2019

I thought your Remarks, “Pilot Shortage?” in October were very well said, sir. I just retired after 40 years of airline flying. Like most, I started as a CFI before the airlines ($15 dual/wet) before getting hired as a Twin Otter F/O and then Captain making $1700/month flying about 50 hours per month. I finished as an International Heavy Jet Captain making in the mid $300K per year but still hourly but with better work rules. In reality the wages haven’t gone up that much when compared with the astronomical costs to get the ratings.

Remarks

Utility of GA

I could fly above the worst of that, but headed west we’d need a fuel stop. Now, I trust the near-all-weather capability of my airplane, perhaps more than I should, but descending through freezing rain and snow, and then climbing back through it were activities I’d rather avoid. A new route was needed.