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ICAO Flight Plans

If the international aviation bureaucracy were ever mated with a one-size-fits-all computer program, the progeny might well be the ICAO International Flight Plan. Everything anyone might wish to know has a place on this form. But, in case theres an obscure bit of trivia without a special code or box in which to put it, theres a way to handle that. If Wilbur and Orville had been faced with anything like this, wed still be…

On The Visual

Instrument training is naturally geared towards technology-heavy procedures like ILS, VOR and RNAV approaches. In poor weather these instrument procedures are the only way to land, but when the weathers good, theres another option.

Plan a Safe Departure

Many of us would rather fly an approach to minimums in harsh conditions than depart in the same weather. Perhaps one of the reasons...

ipad mini for plates

If youre still using an iPad in the cockpit, youre about to be so 15 minutes ago. Well, maybe. As we go to press this month, Apple has been pumping the new iPad mini into the market for about two weeks and after a couple of flight trials, we like what we see.

Theres No Free Lunch

The primary purpose of Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B) is to provide the FAA with the next generation of ATC surveillance capability at lower cost. ADS-B can be more accurate while simultaneously reducing the installation and maintenance costs of existing radar systems. It permits greater coverage where radar isnt practical, such as in mountainous areas and over the Gulf of Mexico. With ADS-B, ATC expects to safely handle more traffic in the same airspace. Much of the cost justification is based on the elimination of about half of the current radar installations. But dont plan on tossing your transponder yet. Radar will still be used as backup to the ADS-B system and for TCAS.


Fly IFR in busy airspace and eventually youll have one of those much ado about nothing experiences. It starts with a clearance you dutifully put in your navigator-and then repeatedly change or completely ignore until you get a clearance to resume the plan you were given at the start.

VORs for Armageddon

Its the summer of 2020, and youre tooling along in your G10,000-equipped bugsmasher, dutifully tracking that magenta line direct to your destination because NextGen allows free flight RNAV-direct navigation. Weve come so far from the days of A/N ranges and dead reckoning.

When ATC says unable

Judgment is the cornerstone of the air traffic control profession. This basic trait, common among thousands of successful air traffic controllers worldwide, allows controllers to face a variety of situations-including unusual pilot requests-and act appropriately.

The ASOS blind spot

ASOS myopically reports conditions when unattended. It won't spew out random observations, but it can't be counted on for an accurate and complete picture...

Alternative attitudes

Even though glass panels dominate the pages of aviation magazines and seem almost required to get flight training students in the door of a flight school, there are plenty of pilots and aircraft trolling the skies with conventional instruments. Retrofitting electronic flight information systems (EFIS) often exceeds the hull value of the aircraft. Even adding a simple electronic attitude indicator ends up being over $5000 in investment.

Tales of ipad mischief

There is a lot of talk about the paperless cockpit these days, and some airlines have even embraced the iPad as a replacement for a bag full of charts. I have been committed to this for several years, and the best-integrated, most reliable package I found before Jepp FD was from Anywhere Map, who make a bulletproof product, and recently announced a new, cross-platform product for iPad and Android.

Varied TRSA Depictions

In-betweens are always tough, and have the potential for trouble. Flying some IFR practice in VFR conditions is a perfect example. Youre emulating one set of rules (IFR) but youre actually bound by another set (VFR). There are all sorts of potential traps here: maintaining cloud clearances, conflicting with traffic youd normally be separated from, and blundering into airspace without the required communication or permission.