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An upper air sounding from the Slidell, Louisiana, NWS site, located about 85 SM west of the accident site, depicted a moist low-level environment with saturated conditions from 500 feet AGL to 6000 feet with a capping inversion. The freezing level was identified at 14,700 feet. The wind profile indicated calm surface wind with wind from the south-southeast veering to the southwest and west through 18,000 feet. A low-level wind maximum or low-level jet was identified near 5000 feet at 215 degrees at 25 knots, with winds less than 10 knots below 1000 feet AGL.
This is your third trip to Columbia, Missouri (KCOU), where you’re flying in from the northwest in your trusty but basic Cessna 182. Equipment includes dual nav receivers, one glideslope receiver and DME. (For those of you watching at home, this is pre-RNAV Distance Measuring Equipment.) A portable GPS offers limited capabilities to navigate outside of your raw-data setup. No big deal; you’ve been flying this plane and panel for years and are a pro with ILS approaches. The filed route, which will be reversed to get home, departs from Watertown, South Dakota (KATY) and is: POEMS OTG V175 HLV.
A DME arc is a curved track at a constant distance around a facility that offers omnidirectional course information and DME, such as a VORTAC, VOR/DME or NDB/DME. This eliminates ILS or LOC DMEs. An arc’s radius is 7- 30 NM and is 5-15 NM long, with 10 NM preferred. Thus, arcs can be lengthy and inefficient. The primary area required obstacle clearance is 1000 feet within four NM of the arc along the initial segment, with a 500-foot secondary clearance extending another two NM. In the intermediate segment, the clearance drops to 500 feet.
Before I can clear an airplane for a visual approach, I have to ensure the pilot has either the landing runway, the airport, or preceding aircraft in sight. Obvious, right? If you’re landing on it or following it, ATC must ensure you can see it. For instance, if there are clouds in the way or the preceding aircraft gets lost in ground clutter or weather, there’s no guarantee you’ll be able to safely navigate visually to the runway.
The point here is that once George is flying, our mental paradigm becomes letting him fly and just telling him what to do. This occasionally results in way too much energy and button-mashing to make a last-minute change. It’s ever so much simpler to be hand flying in the first place and, well, aim elsewhere. So, pick an altitude below which you’ll always hand fly. Perhaps it’s 1000 feet AGL, or maybe all the way down to 400 feet (but no lower).
Back in May 2016, the FAA issued a notice proposing changes to Title 14 of the Code of Federal Regulations, commonly referred to by pilots as the FAR. They were generally favorable to pilots. Many had been discussed in the aviation press and by pilot groups earlier. In late June 2018, the FAA published the “Final Rule” incorporating the changes, some with modifications based upon comments received. Let’s look at some of the changes, paying special attention to those relevant to instrument training and instrument currency.