Over the last few months, weve run a series of articles to guide you towards your own personal SOP. The final article of that series is in this issue. But, youd be wise to ask if you really need an SOP for general aviation flying. After all, do you really want to further complicate the process of flying a small plane in IFR? Do you really want to fly, Just like the airline pilots? Part 91 doesnt have that thick book of requirements that impedes (guides?) the pros. Do you really want to trade the liberation and fun of GA flying for that kind of strict regimentation?
Most instrument pilots flying today probably learned with conventional six-pack flight instrumentation. But, thats changing. Rare is a new aircraft available without EFIS and popular shops are installing glass retrofits nearly as fast as theyre installing ADS-B systems. Do you need EFIS? Should you consider upgrading your six-pack panel to a fancy electronic package?
As suggested by recent decisions and actions, FAA leadership might actually be agreeing with that last bit. Over a year ago they announced a different regulatory climate called compliance philosophy, which is supposed to engender a more cooperative relationship between the regulator and the regulated. The FAA also began relaxing some certification requirements in favor of common sense safety improvements like seat belts and shoulder harnesses, angle-of-attack indicators, and more recently non-certified EFIS in certified aircraft. Now, theyve responded to the legislative mandate to do away with the third-class medical for many of us.
A few months back, Jeff Van West-previous editor of IFR and respected aviation journalist who still hangs around here, you know, kinda like the brother-in-law who needs to get a real job-and I were brainstorming about using a simulator to maintain instrument proficiency. We continue to stress this topic because its an important tool in proficiency. But, as more and more of you are flying simulators-either your own commercial or home-built sims, or one at your FBO or flight school-one common theme is that many of us arent sure what to do once were in the box.
Some of you might recall that almost two years ago I retired as an airline captain. Then, due to various circumstances both in and out of my control, I took a year hiatus from all self-piloted flight. The result was some serious catching up to do to get ready to fly my own personal flivver. Being an opportunistic magazine editor, I used that need to also create a number of articles for the magazine about the process.
We need completely realistic virtual avionics. Ive been ringing this bell for a decade now and have achieved exactly nothing. Simulator training for real-world pilots is crippled without them. Pilots cant practice the buttonology, which atrophies even faster than a six-pack scan. Pilots also want their own panels to fly virtually. I say thats one of the biggest barriers to expanding the use of simulation.
Its been a long time since I provided any primary flight training. But as I recall, once it appears that the student will, in fact, stick with the training long enough to attempt solo flight and hopefully go on to obtain their private pilot certification, we start teaching them in earnest how to handle a power failure. Then, power failures remain an important part of our training for most of the rest of our flying careers.
A few months back I admitted here that Id not flown in a year, but was correcting that shortcoming. My ego told me I was a retired airline pilot with many thousands of hours, who had been flying over 75 hours a month, so returning would be no big deal and Id easily do it. The editor in me considered the more responsible, conservative and methodical approach I would espouse in writing. Fortunately, the more conservative path won out.
While that statement naively looks solely at the cost of distribution, ignoring the cost of development and maintenance, theres also some validity to it. After all, with paper were not only paying all the back-end costs, but also the cost of printing and distribution. Shouldnt the data alone be a lot cheaper? And with multiple devices that use that data, why should we have to purchase multiple copies? Shouldnt there be one aircraft data subscription shared across all the devices?
Aviation is a small world; there are a limited number of topics on which one can write. Additionally, journalism is a specific enough trade that when you combine it with aviation, you have a very small world indeed. Thus, its inevitable that there occur certain overlaps and (gasp!) even certain duplications. Granted, this one innocently went too far, but just how many unique articles can be written about a single, odd approach without covering the same ground?
Why do we fly? Are we so shallow a species that for many of us the reason is the excitement, the unique specialness? With that diminishing, are we so superficial that we give up flying? There are, of course, many motivations for potential and ongoing aviators. For some people, flying is simply a job. I really feel sorry for those unfortunate souls.
While reports of drone near-misses from airline pilots at major airports tend to be sensational, most of us believe that for small consumer-grade drones that weigh less than a pound, the safety risk is similar to wildlife strikes, which occur daily, NOTAM or no NOTAM.