(This is the first of a four-part series of articles in which contributing editor Fred Simonds will fully explore common, oft-fatal mistakes that we pilots make. This first article merely relates a number of ultimately harmless incidents that will serve as illustrations on which we’ll build in subsequent articles. As I read Fred’s manuscript, I […]
Schedules, climate, and other factors can limit our ability to maintain instrument currency in actual instrument conditions. The FAA allows us to maintain currency by using flight simulators and training deices without an instructor, but not all of us have access to an acceptable device. Besides, it is much more fun to fly an airplane […]
While most swans that we see have white feathers, black swans do exist. In 2007, Nassim Nicholas Taleb published a book titled Black Swan. He described a “Black Swan Event” as an unforeseeable event that goes beyond what is expected with potentially dire consequences, with a very low probability of happening, and one that we […]
In 2015, the FAA began looking to rationalize ILS approaches. In this context, rationalize means cut. The following year, the FAA developed a cost/benefit quantitative model and conducted an analysis at about 2900 airports with few or no RNAV SIDs or STARs. The finished product was a plan to decommission Cat I ILS approaches at some of these airports between 2020-2030. Before a decision was reached, the project was shelved in 2017.
Things are getting busy approaching Trenton, Tennessee, Gibson County (KTGC), even though its not that bad. But the skies are grey enough to make you squint as you enter the overcast. Youve also entered, as youll soon find out, the murky realm of the regs. A cold crust of rime clings to the aluminum and probably the antennas, so youre anxious to get into that toasty hangar at TGC. Worse, the suns going down and the gyros acting up. So any shortcuts (safe and legal, of course) would be great right about now.
Harbour Air flew a De Havilland Beaver on floats on pure electric power for the first time in early December as the first step in its program to fully electrify its fleet of historic seaplanes. The Vancouver-based airline serves dozens of communities off British Columbia's west coast and most of its flights are 30 minutes or less so the company believes new advances in battery technology will enable it to safely carry out the dozens of commercial passenger flights it operates every day. The December flight was a demonstration of the motor in a plane near its gross weight with batteries and lasted about 15 minutes. CEO Greg McDougall lifted the almost-70-year-old airframe off the Fraser River and later reported that it flew like a Beaver. He said newer, lighter batteries that are becoming available will allow room for passengers and cargo and the savings on maintenance and downtime will ultimately pay off.
I noted an interesting change to the Instrument Rating ACS released back in June last year. It used to be that per the ACS, a circling approach required a heading change of at least 90 degrees from the final approach course to the landing runway. That requirement is now gone, replaced with the requirement to Visually maneuver to a base or downwind leg appropriate for the landing runway and environmental conditions. Also, new language was added saying the pilot must not bank over 30 degrees.
Look at the RNAV (GPS)-A approach at Naples, FL (KAPF). Seems like it is a straight-in approach to Runway 32 but it only has circling minimums. There are three conditions stated in the FAA Instrument Procedures Handbook (FAA-H-8038-16B) preventing straight-in minimums: 1) The final approach course alignment with the runway centerline exceeds 30 degrees, which isn't the case here. 2) The descent gradient is greater than 400 feet/NM from the FAF to the threshold crossing height (TCH). The actual descent gradient here is 316 feet/NM. 3) A runway is not clearly defined on the airfield. This is all that's left.
Pop quiz: When must you file an alternate? Thats an easy one, we all know the rule about needing 2000-3 one hour before and after the ETA. Next question: When do you file an alternate? Probably the most common answer is, I always file an alternate. Fair enough, its never a bad idea. Now, regulations aside, why do you file an alternate? Naturally the response is: In the event the weathers gone down too low at the destination and we need somewhere else to go. Right up there is an unexpected loss of equipment or a navaid required for an approach. And while the regs are also designed to provide a backup for lost communications, this often serves as a distant third, cause these days were just not all that worried about that.
Remember when you first picked up the mic in an airplane, either to ATC or at a non-towered field? Most of us were probably as tentative as a boy trying to get his first date . Even if youre good at public speaking, few of us gain the comfort without first practicing with prepared remarks. But, on the radio our scripts are too vague and variable; we have to learn along the way. Meanwhile were so worried about sounding bad or saying the wrong thing, we often sound bad and say the wrong thing. Fortunately, practice makes perfect-or at least better.
Sure as the BRS Save-O-The-Month calendar flips to a new year, we here at the Department of Self-Righteous Finger Pointing, present the best of the dumbest ways pilots have contributed to keeping the skies safe by rendering as many aircraft as possible unairworthy. Today, we review the year 2016, which reflected a modest improvement in not crashing but still logged 1627 accident/incidents worthy of NTSB note. Thats 4.46 events per day or roughly one prang every 5.3 hours. As with past Stupid Pilot Tricks, we use NTSB probable cause results and dont report on fatal accidents.
Last month, we gave you a survey course on what happens behind the scenes of approach procedures (TERPS 101). Thats a prerequisite for this course, since were going to build on what was covered in that article to examine the nuts and bolts of other types of procedures. In case you didnt complete the prerequisite, lets quickly go over what you need to know.