The pilot was just trying to get home. He filed a route from Pennsylvania to his destination in Delaware. The weather was acting up. Hed already delayed his departure, waiting out weather over his destination and along his route. Once in the air, he wrangled a few shortcuts from Cleveland Center, shaving plenty of mileage off of his filed route. So far so good. He was saving time and getting around the remaining weather. …
The battle has raged a long time between useful, inexpensive, portable, non-certified devices and panel-mount certified instrumentation. In practice, weve long used non-certified portables for navigation and we havent been falling out of sky in swarms.
The final rule for pilot certification and qualification requirements for air carrier operations, The 1500 Hour Rule or First Officer Qualification Rule, (FOQ) was released by the FAA on July 7, 2013. It was published in the Federal Register on July 15, 2013, effective immediately.
Visual area penetrations have become a challenging problem for the FAA, airports and pilots. First, keeping track of them can be a moving target. Then theres the conflict between the hazard of visual area obstacles and the safety benefit of using an advisory glidepath. Although weve covered various aspects of this topic in the April and July 2013 issues of IFR, recent changes could affect approaches you fly.
The Asiana Airlines flight crew mismanaged the descent of a 777 into San Francisco International Airport last July, the NTSB said in its probable-cause hearing in June. The pilots made several mistakes and by the time they decided to go around it was too late. The airplane hit the seawall, causing a fiery crash that killed three passengers and seriously injured 49. The board also found the complexities of the auto-throttle and autopilot flight director systems contributed to the crash, and should have been more clearly described both in Boeings documentation and in Asiana pilot training. Crew fatigue also was a factor. The board also said emergency responders on the scene, who ran over one of the crash victims with a fire truck, should have been better trained and equipped. The board followed up with 27 safety recommendations to the airline, Boeing, the aircraft firefighting group, and the city and county of San Francisco.
Fuel is the single biggest variable expense for aircraft operators. What if you could reduce your cost by 30 percent? In addition to being expensive, gas is heavy. New airplanes containing the creature comforts of a luxury car have terrible useful loads with full tanks. Maybe three normal adults can fit into a typical four-place airplane before being overweight. Add baggage, golf clubs, or fishing poles and youre leaving gas behind. Trading gas for weight can severely limit range, one of the consequences of traveling by plane.
Its no secret that general aviations accident rate is significantly worse than the airlines and corporate flight departments. According to NTSB studies over the first 10 years of this century, youre 12 times more likely to have an accident when flying your own or a rented GA aircraft.
A favorite IPC question: When is an alternate required? The answer: Always. But like most rules, there is an exception. In a style only a bureaucrat can appreciate, the exception is listed before the rule.
Call me an optimist, but I like to think pilots and air traffic controllers get along pretty well. If both parties communicate and respect each others needs, planes flow smoothly through the national airspace system.