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AVIONICS

Sneak in the Side Door

Before you get a contact approach, some more boxes need to be checked, starting with weather minimums on par with Special VFR and Class G airspace. AIM 5-4-25 kicks off with them: Pilots operating in accordance with an IFR flight plan, provided they are clear of clouds and have at least one mile flight visibility and can reasonably expect to continue to the destination airport in those conditions, may request ATC authorization for a contact approach.
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Finding Non-Precision

As we move forward in time with the proliferation of LPV approaches, the phaseout of non-precision approaches using ground-based navaids such as VOR, NDB, and LOC-only will result in fewer and fewer non-precision approaches. Furthermore, some WAAS navigators often provide an advisory glideslope to non-precision RNAV approaches: LNAV+V and LP+V. The +V refers to the advisory glideslope. An LP (localizer performance) approach is a non-precision RNAV approach that requires WAAS. Bottom line: there is almost always an electronic glideslope lurking in the shadows.
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Upgrade Confusion

A shop near me has a good reputation for quality avionics installations. Their bid came in a good deal under the bid from Executive Autopilots, but its essentially a one-man shop and that raises some potential longer-term concerns. I also have an acquaintance who flies a 340 and he recently had the GFC 600 autopilot installed by his local shop, also a high-end shop with a superb reputation and all kinds of capabilities. I had them bid it and their bid came in competitive with Executive Autopilots.
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High Too Tech

Step two: Set the clock that held no resemblance to the actual time of day. I fiddled with it for a few minutes and gave up after finding myself seemingly 50 layers deep in menus. I assigned the task to my wife, also an engineer and a pilot. She even got out the manual-a separate one for the man-machine interface but after a frustratingly long time, she was also defeated.
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Better than TAF?

A dmittedly, Im an unabashed geek, getting my jollies running statistical tests querying the actual NTSB relational database and publishing my aviation safety research in journals using scientific mumbo-jumbo-the majority (if not all) of which would put any insomniac to sleep in a heartbeat. That said Im also an active general aviation pilot. Here, Ill don both hats as I cover a hot-off-the-press scientific paper published in the Atmosphere journal, translating from highfalutin language into laymans English for the benefit of the general aviation pilot population.
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Comparing LPV and ILS

A rriving at your destination on a dreary day, ATC queries you with say approach requested. The landing runway has an ILS and an RNAV (GPS) approach with identical LPV minimums published. Which do you choose? You would be forgiven for thinking, as we initially did, that this is a bit of an inconsequential question. WAAS has enabled satellite guided approaches to have precision comparable to Category I ILS approaches, so what difference does it make? Although true, this doesnt mean that ILS and LPV are identical in all regards.
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BasicMed Safety Pilot

When we got BasicMed, something wed done for a long time was taken away. BasicMed applies to acting as pilot in command. But, with BasicMed youre not legal to act as a safety pilot for your buddy whos under the hood practicing approaches in VMC. So, you exercise the workaround of agreeing ahead of time that you, the safety pilot, are indeed the PIC for this flight (more on that in a moment), then youre once again good to go even with BasicMed ... if, that is, the aircraft insurance agrees. Lets look more carefully at all this.

Our Intermittent GPS Future

Various government agencies think its necessary to potentially render GPS useless throughout hundreds of square miles of the NAS nearly every single day. We who live in the West have experienced this for years. From my home in Santa Fe, NM, I get at least one, sometimes a few, notices of nearby GPS outages every week. But, more recently, those of you in the East have begun to feel more of the same pain.

Human Factors

About 30 minutes into these touch and goes, one requested a stop and go. I could not have five aircraft doing touch and goes with one doing a stop and go; it would mess up the pattern and Id be making student pilots do a lot they didnt need to. So, I come back with, Unable. I have five of yall. He came back with, Well we need to do stop and goes for training. I thought about putting that one airplane on the other runway, but I had started to have a line of departures and arrivals. Unable, I repeated. I thought the matter was closed, as it should have been.

How Much Is Enough?

Removing the old autopilot will leave holes in the left panel that would be too ugly if we just covered them, so were going to cut new metal. Since were doing that, the shop has suggested we might consider replacing the backup analog airspeed indicator, attitude gyro, and altimeter with an integrated electronic standby instrument. Yeah, thats probably a good idea, especially right now, as the vacuum attitude indicator has been slow to come alive recently and is probably about to die.

Exploring Every Angle

What happens if you depart on the original IFR squawk? In a word: confusion. While, you are technically VFR-you voided your clearance by departing VFR-ATCs radar doesnt know that. Itll still detect that IFR squawk and tag you up on the scope as if you were on that IFR clearance. An unexpected IFR target popping up amidst their other IFR traffic is a real distraction to a controller, especially if its an aircraft who was expected to hold for release.

Report Leaving

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 youre at cruise or even up in the flight levels?