TECHNIQUE

Canadas ADS-B

Just to make sure you understand whats up, lets review. In the U.S., weve got excellent radar coverage, so all those radar sites have been modified to understand your aircrafts ADS-B out transmissions. In those areas where radar sites dont quite have adequate coverage, the FAA has added ground stations specifically to receive your ADS-B Out. The bottom line is that the FAA has sufficient ground-based coverage to know where you are almost all the time, using your ADS-B Out.

Why GPS Doesnt Work

Dark clouds are looming on the horizon of our otherwise exciting GPS future. With increasing frequency, the military is jamming or spoofing GPS over huge swaths of airspace. A typical GPS NOTAM for Albuquerque center covers a radius of 237 NM at 10,000 feet, 207 NM at 400 feet and 165 NM at 50 feet daily for most of a week. Pilots in the Southwest have become accustomed to these NOTAMs, but theyre becoming more frequent and expanding to other areas of the country.

Clearing Flags

Its certainly legal to fly through the AIRMET. These are advisories covering large areas. But it behooves you to determine that your flight plan wont enter known or forecast light or moderate icing conditions as prohibited in 91.527. Here goes. Theres a stationary front just west of the route, bringing in cloud layers and scattered showers. Freezing levels will hit between 7000 and 12,000 feet. So, at 8000 feet, you do risk picking up ice. One lone pilot report from a single-engine turbine over Iowa shows negative ice in climb from 3000 to the tops at 11,000. This isnt all that useful since youre flying lower and slower, but you are willing to climb as high as 12,000 feet to be on top. Your Plan B, while not at all mission-friendly, is to turn back to warmer air and land in Iowa, or even return to Bowling Green if thats best.

Skew-T Revisited

The Skew-T log-p diagram, typically just called a Skew-T, is an amazing tool for understanding whats happening in the atmosphere at a given station. They are essential for understanding a precipitation regime or differentiating icing layers. Even after nearly three decades in meteorology I would find it almost impossible to understand an icing situation without this tool, and I often visualize the makeup of an environment with a sort of mental Skew-T image. I cant underscore how valuable these diagrams are once you get to know them.

On The Air: October 2019

The ride over was smooth and generally clear on a recent flight, but there were intermittent clouds and bumps at 7000:Piper 28D: Allentown Approach, Piper Two Eight Delta, request.Allentown Approach: Go ahead.Piper 28D: We are about to enter a cloud layer at 7000. Is 5000 available? Ive got my 90-year-old dad with me and Id like him to have a smooth ride.Approach: Both of you can godown to 5000.

Bigger Class B?

I used to fly out of an airport on the coast just south of the San Francisco Class B. While controllers tried to permit transit, there was no guarantee. If they also have a 91.131(a)(2) problem, that Miami solution would seem attractive to San Francisco. The result for VFR traffic on a trip headed north might be to add up to 100 miles or more to bypass the Class B to the east, or a deviation far out over the Pacific Ocean, neither of which is an attractive alternative.

Briefing: October 2019

The Air Force and tech company DZYNE have created an ungainly-looking device that can take off, fly and land an airplane like a human pilot and without tearing the aircraft apart. The Air Force Research Lab (AFRL) Center for Rapid Innovation flew a Cessna 206 with the ROBOpilot at the controls for two hours on Aug. 9 and said the idea is to make the machine interchangeable with human pilots. Imagine being able to rapidly and affordably convert a general aviation aircraft, like a Cessna or Piper, into an unmanned aerial vehicle, having it fly a mission autonomously, and then returning it back to its original manned configuration, said Dr. Alok Das, senior scientist with the Center for Rapid Innovation, in a statement. A video with the news release shows the robotic pilot making corrections to keep the centerline during takeoff and a bounced, but ultimately safe landing.

Readback: October 2019

First, we checked with Garmin and their equipment actually decodes the Morse code identifier rather than rely on GPS and the tuned frequency to look it up in the boxs database. So far, so good. We next checked with Mark Kolber, our regs guru, and he pointed us to AIM 1-1-3.c. That paragraph talks about navaid identification in general, pointing out that merely hearing Morse code isnt enough because it could be transmitting TEST. Likewise, live voice transmissions from FSS or ATC dont indicate a valid navigation signal. The prize, though, is in the paragraphs last sentence, If your equipment automatically decodes the identifier, it is not necessary to listen to the audio identification. So, Rick, youre right. If the box decodes and displays the Morse code identifier, you can rely on that.

When Things Go Wrong

It should be obvious that we never say the words, Declare, Emergency, Mayday, or Pan-Pan unless we indeed have a dire situation. These words have the potential to flip a controllers airspace upside down faster than a Vmc roll, so they should be used with discretion. Even saying Declare by itself could lead us to believe that assistance is needed, as well as Pan-Pan (Urgent condition). Because Pan-Pan is considered an urgent condition (maybe not a full-blown emergency), it has the potential to turn into Mayday (Distress) so we mostly treat it as such.

Spotting Traffic

TCAS II is the most comprehensive form of TCAS, but its range depends on what it is asked to do. Overall pulse detection range is 30 NM for Mode S transponders and 14 NM for Mode A/C units. Surveillance must be reliable within 14 NM, but TCAS II will only assess threats within 12 NM as possible RAs. TCAS II guarantees system reliability within at least 4.5 NM. Two TCAS II systems can coordinate RAs to maximize vertical separation, typically 300-700 feet. There is even a reverse RA if one aircraft fails to respond correctly in the latest version 7.1 software.

Briefing: September 2019

uAvionix is working on a wingtip ADS-B Out device that will work with satellite-based ADS-B systems that will be used in several countries and the U.S. system, which relies on ground stations. The skyBeacon X will pack upward and downward pointing antennas into a compact integrated device that will also replace a wingtip position light. The development project was spurred by contact from Canadian pilots who could be required to install ADS-B Out as early as 2023. Nav Canada, the not-for-profit corporation that supplies air traffic services in Canada, will use the Aireon satellite system for ADS-B surveillance and that requires antennas pointed skyward. Most ADS-B systems now available for GA aircraft are designed for the U.S. terrestrial system and the few that do offer the so-called antenna diversity required in Canada are significantly more expensive. uAvionix hopes to have the system ready for sale in 2021.

Readback: September 2019

Im so glad you tackled the question of whether it is a requirement to report leaving an altitude. I read the regs years ago and have continued to report leaving on every altitude change but I often feel I am alone or perhaps one of a small minority. Ive gone back and reviewed the regs again to see whether I was doing it incorrectly since I wasnt hearing many others doing so and it does take more air time to say, ...leaving flight level 240 descending flight level 200 than 200, when cleared from FL240 to FL200, for example.