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Steam Gauges Are Safer

Technically advanced aircraft (TAA)-those with a primary flight display (PFD), multi-function display (MFD), and GPS-are sexy. Pilots are drawn to them like Pooh Bear to honey. Besides being eye-catching, TAA attempt to address some of the biggest problems in aviation by providing pilots with a lot of supplementary safety information. Moving maps designed to improve situational awareness make it almost impossible to get lost. Databases store more information at the touch of a button than…

Approach Secrets

In July 2013, we published "GPS Alphabet Soup" covering the five types of GPS approaches in some depth. A reader suggested a follow-on article...

Briefing: August 2014

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.

Gaming the System

Flying an airplane involves multiple concepts from physics: Bernoullis principle, centrifugal force, Newtons law of gravity, to name a few. Theres one more natural law, though, that isnt in the science textbooks: the faster youre trying to get somewhere, the more likely youre going to get unexpectedly delayed.

Legal Interpretations

While many of the regulations that govern our actions are clear, there are a large number that may seem vague or even leave room for unintended interpretations. For these reasons, it is possible to seek official and binding interpretations from FAAs legal department, either through a direct request or possibly more onerous encounters with the regulations.

Briefing: July 2014

lectric-powered airplanes may still be far from mainstream, but interest in this technology continues to grow. In late April, Airbus engineers successfully flew the E-Fan, a tandem two-seater with a pair of electric-powered ducted fans on the tail. The batteries, carried in the wings, provide 30 minutes of flight.

More Than One Way

In aviation as in life, there are often multiple ways to accomplish a single task. I learned that lesson early in my training as a radar approach controller.

Spring Mountain Storm

Were preparing for our flight from Santa Fe, N.M. and theres been news of an unusually cold late spring storm moving through Colorado. On May 11, of all things, winter storm warnings are already up for Wyoming and much of Colorado. Our bumbling friend Dave called ahead and unfortunately most of the resorts like Aspen and Telluride had already closed for the season (What a waste, he complained.) but we found that Arapahoe Basin is still open. So our quest is to get to Denver.

Terminal Arrival Areas

The Terminal Arrival Area has been dissected and rehashed a lot. For those of us who became instrument rated when, say, Loran was cutting-edge technology, the TAA is a bit of a paradigm shift for approach planning. If you were raised /G, its just another navigation parameter.