The FAA has long had its WINGS program focused on increasing the skill levels of all pilots. In 2008, it received a major face lift, became web based (www.faasafety.gov), and offered many different opportunities for pilots to increase proficiency without the ab- solutes of a pass/fail review or check ride. There are three levels of WINGS: the Basic, Advanced, and Master phases. Each level has multiple phases. Unlike the previous program, multiple phases can be earned each year. To complete a phase, pilots must get three flight and three ground credits which can be chosen from a wide range of activities.
Many mainstream aviation publications include a recitation of facts about selected accidents. The idea, Im sure, is a there-but-for-the-grace-of-God-go-I kind of warning. Clearly theres value in that information, but when I read those sections Im often left with a so-what or too-bad-for-them reaction because discovering the applicability of those mishaps is left to the reader. IFR has never published many articles about accidents. However, weve recently begun to occasionally include that article genre in the lineup of the mag.
Anything that can go wrong, will, and at the worst possible moment-so states Finagles corollary to Murphys Law. This notion is drilled into pilots from the beginning, so that it becomes second nature to have a plan to handle all sorts of potential failures that could be experienced in flight. Engine failure: check. Instrument and system malfunction: got it covered. Communication failure: no problem. GPS failure... Uhhh, what? Hang on a minute.
Aviation widely relies on the transfer of institutional knowledge. The flight instructor teaching you to fly didnt acquire all his/her skills alone. Someone taught them the basics, who in turn was taught by another individual, and so on. Lessons from past experience (a.k.a. mistakes) enlighten future generations. ATC is no different. Regardless of background, when a controller walks in the door of an ATC facility, they need to learn how to work that particular facilitys airspace. Achieving certification depends on the experience and guidance of the other controllers and staffers.
The FAA is focusing on increasing the use of PBN procedures, particularly RNAV STARs. Increased use of PBN procedures will reduce ATC complexity and simplify traffic sequencing. PBN begins to really shine as new, more efficient traffic management and avionics capabilities enter the NAS. Pilots will find ATC more predictable and discover more opportunities to fly efficiently. At about 3300 smaller airports, safer PBN approaches with LPV and LNAV/VNAV minimums will be commissioned to every qualified runway. Most, but not all, airports will have an IAP to at least one runway end.
A 20-knot headwind or tailwind for a gliding 747 makes for a rounding error, but for an engine-out single it can mean the difference between an on-airport landing and an off-airport tragedy. Glider pilots have charts and techniques for speed and loading to maximize their performance, including adjustments for wind. They call it Speed to Fly; for X headwind increase the indicated glide speed to Y for a new rate of descent of Z.
Unless youve already made your own checklist(s), chances are youll want to add a few items to what youve got so far. Say you mostly fly IFR. Youll want IFR-specific items in your checklists. So, consider adding items for flight plan (checked), departure briefing, approach briefing, etc. Or, perhaps youve found that turning off your fuel pump during the After Takeoff check is something you often forget. Consider making a redundant entry in the Cruise check.
The multiple steps involved in filing NOTAMs and PIREPs can steal time from a controllers main purpose of separating aircraft. From their first transmission as a trainee, controllers have the term priority of duty bashed into their head. Allowing two aircraft to get too close because you were distracted by a PIREP or a NOTAM is not an option.
For jets over 75,000 pounds, many airports urge pilots to use Noise Abatement Departure Profiles (NADPs). There are two detailed in FAA AC 91-53. A Close-in Community NADP is intended to provide noise reduction for noise sensitive areas located in close proximity to the departure end of an airport runway. A Distant Community NADP has less stringent requirements since the noise-sensitive areas are further away. Each specifies thrust settings, speeds, lift device settings, and altitude goals, all designed to maximize climb rate and minimize disturbances.
In fact, since many pilots learned to do things with canned checklists from the very beginning, they go about things following rote instructions rather than practicing a higher level of understanding and cockpit resource management. Later on, this can make training for advanced aircraft more challenging, since pilots must then adapt to the other methods well discuss below. Note that were not talking about eliminating checklists insofar as written guidance to structure your operations.
From a flight plan perspective, waypoint sequencing is suspended at the hold waypoint. Thus, the CDI is always showing an error relative to the inbound course. But, as you near the hold and for each turn in the hold, you get an annunciation telling you what to do. In addition, if you have GPS steering to your autopilot, the autopilot will fly the hold, even though the CDI shows a large error on the outbound leg. While creating the hold is straight forward, there are some nuances to exiting the hold. If you select the hold from the flight plan, you have an option to simply, Exit Hold. Selecting this will have you complete the present circuit and then proceed to the next leg.